Reach Higher Commencement Challenge

Posted by White House on November 10, 2014

First Lady Michelle Obama Announces Reach Higher Commencement Challenges

Today, First Lady Michelle Obama announced two commencement challenges via video as part of her Reach Higher initiative. Schools choosing to participate in the challenges will create video submissions to capture their efforts to make attending and completing college a reality for all students. Finalists could have the opportunity to hear from the First Lady at their commencement ceremonies in the spring of 2015.

The Reach Higher initiative is the First Lady’s effort to inspire every student in America to take charge of their future by completing their education past high school, whether at a professional training program, a community college, or a four-year college or university. In today’s economy, a high school diploma just isn’t enough. Students have to “reach higher,” which is why the First Lady is working to rally the country around the President’s “North Star” goal — that by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

The FAFSA Completion Challenge

The First Lady’s “FAFSA Completion Challenge” video urges high schools to increase Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion rates among their seniors.

As the First Lady says in her video:

“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. That’s why I’m calling on every high school senior in America to complete their FAFSA form starting on January 1st . And I want students, teachers, school counselors, and administrators to show me how your school is taking action to get more students to fill out their forms this year. So fill out your FAFSA, make a video, and share it online.”

Near-Peer Mentoring College Challenge

The First Lady’s “Near-Peer Mentoring College Challenge,” directed at college communities and institutes of higher education, urges them to increase and enhance near-peer mentoring and college immersion experiences on campus for high school students. Research has shown that students connecting with other students, or “near-peers,” can make a significant difference in motivating them to make higher education a reality.

As the First Lady says in her video:

“Last January, 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. Today, I want to take that discussion to the next level. That’s why I’m calling on people all across college communities – from student groups to admissions officers to college presidents – to take new steps to open up your campus…”

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