On October 30, First Lady Michelle Obama announced two video contests as part of her Reach Higher initiative, a program that encourages students to continue their education after high school. Schools participating in the contests are tasked with creating videos that show how they are encouraging students to attend and complete college.
To take charge of their future in today’s difficult economy, students must “reach higher” by attending a professional training program, a community college or a four-year college or university. Through the Reach Higher initiative, the First Lady is working to inspire every student in America to further their education after high school.
This initiative helps students understand what they need to complete their education by exposing them to college and career opportunities, encouraging academic planning, supporting high school counselors and showing how financial aid can make college affordable.
The Reach Higher initiative supports President Barack Obama’s “North Star” goal, that America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020.
The first of the two contests announced by the First Lady is the “FAFSA Completion Challenge.” To enter, high school students, teachers and administrators must create a video that advises students to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), a process that BC students should be familiar with.
“Through FAFSA, the Department of Education provides more than $150 billion each year in loans, grants, and work-study programs that can help you and your family pay for college,” the First Lady says in her video announcing the contest. “That’s why I’m calling on every high school senior in America to complete their FAFSA form.”
The second of the two contests is the “Near-Peer Mentoring College Challenge,” directed at institutes of higher learning. Research has shown that hearing from other students can have a huge impact on high school students in motivating them to continue their education. For this challenge, college officials and student groups must submit a video that shows the peer-mentoring programs offered on their campuses for incoming students. Colleges are urged to increase their near-peer mentoring and college immersion programs for students in high school.
“I spoke with college presidents from across the country about the importance of reaching out to more of our young people, especially those from underserved communities. These students have so much potential, but they don’t always get the encouragement and support they need to go to college,” says the First Lady in her video.
To enter the FAFSA Completion Challenge and the Near-Peer Mentoring College Challenge, submissions must be uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo. Contestants can also share their efforts on social media by using the hashtag #ReachHigher.
For the winning schools, Michelle Obama will speak at their commencement ceremonies in the spring of 2015. There is no doubt that First Lady Michelle Obama’s interest in promoting higher education will result in an inspiring and motivating commencement address.