Michelle Obama Continues To Encourage Students To Reach Higher
As part of her latest effort to get more students to pursue education beyond high school, former Former First Lady Michelle Obama has often told her story—including in her recent memoir, Becoming —of being a first-generation college student who dared to “reach higher” and enroll at Princeton University. Her experience drove her to launch an effort to encourage more students to pursue education beyond high school while in the White House, known as the Reach Higher Initiative . This initiative has lived beyond her time as First Lady and Mrs. Obama has continued to stay involved. This week, Mrs. Obama announced a new series of videos on Instagram to inspire students.
Michelle Obama made news when she starred in a rap video called “Go to College” inspiring students to pursue their dreams and at go to college to be able to do so. By rapping in a YouTube video the First Lady hoped to meet students where they are: on social media. (The video has been viewed on YouTube nearly 5 million times as of this writing.) That is deliberate and Reach Higher has continued to do so and this latest effort is no different.
One of Reach Higher’s primary initiatives has been College Signing Day . Building upon athletes declaring which school they will attend to play a certain sport, the First Lady and Reach Higher has sought to uplift all students in the same way. Through events at schools across the country, social media, and more, Reach Higher has celebrated students as they pursue education beyond high school. Other efforts of the initiative include raising awareness around the FAFSA (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid), building capacity of college counselors, and improving completion.
In this new series , Obama is sharing the experiences of four first-year college students, each having “overcome tremendous odds to get where they are.” These videos will be shared on Instagram’s video platform, IGTV, and will share the ups and downs of their first-year at college in an effort to highlight the issues students face when going to college. The Former First Lady said she hopes this will create a supportive community for students who might face similar circumstances.
Low-income students and students whose parents didn’t go to college enroll in higher education at a lower rate compared to their peers. They also are less likely to graduate on average. Encouraging more of these students to enroll and helping them graduate can pay dividends for those students as college graduates earn more, are less likely to be unemployed or in poverty, and are even healthier, among other benefits. Efforts like that of Reach Higher can truly make a difference in the lives of students and that’s why it’s admirable that the former First Lady has invested so much in helping students go to college.
Students who may not know what it would be like to go to college—particularly low-income students and those whose parents didn’t go—might be more hesitant to apply. But videos like these allows students to see for themselves what it might be like to enroll in higher education. Not only can it let them see what it’s like, it can help them know there are people like them who are able to succeed. Sometimes just being able to imagine what the future might look like is enough for students to realize what they thought was impossible is actually achievable.