New campaign encourages higher education
ELISABETH SMITH | ASST. NEWS EDITOR | THE USD VISTA
First Lady Michelle Obama announced a new campaign to promote higher education across the nation, Oct. 19. The Better Make Room campaign seeks to praise students who are striving toward continuing their education.
The first lady has partnered with nonprofits, businesses, and social media websites to promote higher education in a more attractive light to young people.
“This campaign will leverage traditional and new media platforms to celebrate student stories in the same way that we often celebrate celebrities and athletes,” the press release states. “Through an integration of celebrities, peers, influencers, and partners who step outside their own accomplishments to lift up those of another, the campaign gives achievement, smarts, conquest and reaching higher the spotlight they deserve.”
While University of San Diego students have already received the message of higher education, it is clear to them why the campaign is important. The use of social media and positive messages spread through organizations impact youths.
Sophomore Sarah Fazackerley believes that the campaign could bring a more serious tone about college in social media.
“I think it will help spread the idea that college is important and make the idea more attractive,” Fazackerley said. “Instead of [social media being] like meaningless gossip about celebrities”
When looking at popular culture, Fazackerley found that higher education was not highlighted as an important step toward a successful life.
“I don’t think that it supported going to college because most of the people that are making a lot of money or are on TV, either inherited their money or didn’t really need college,” Fazackerley said.
Sophomore Emma Nowakoski noticed similar themes in pop culture, specifically on TV advertisements.
“I’ve always noticed that back to school commercials are always for middle schools or little kids,” Nowakoski said. “They’re never directed to college aged kids. I think that it is because only like 30 percent of the population goes to college, so advertisers only aim at audiences who are for sure going to school, and college is not guaranteed.”
While junior Nina Green sees the positive benefits of promoting college through pop culture, she fears bringing higher education to the entertainment industry could have negative effects.
“It may be hard for people to constantly be seeing celebrities promoting this idea of higher education when some people cannot afford it,” Green said. “It may affect kids how the modeling industry affects teenage girls, and give [the kids] a negative self-image because they can’t [afford] to go to college when a majority of people around them can.”
Despite this possible effect, Green found that growing up in a small town, the culture promoted higher education.
“I do feel like the culture around me leaned more towards going to college,” Green said. “I am from a small town where everyone knows everyone and those who don’t leave for college generally stay there for a good amount of time, so there is a big incentive to get out through going to college. All the people that I looked up to either in my family or in my older friends had gone to college and spoke so highly of it that it became something that I wanted to have an experience with as well.”
To help promote this positive culture of higher education, Vine, the CW Network, Funny or Die, and Seventeen, and 22 other companies partnered with the campaign, according to the office of the First Lady. These companies will take advantage of their broad audiences through social media and publishing original content.
“Seventeen will promote and amplify the Better Make Room campaign across its brand platforms including print, digital and social reaching over 30 million teens,” the press release states. “Additionally, Seventeen will play an important role in ongoing campaign efforts by featuring the Better Make Room messaging within a story on money matters for teens in March and a Cheat Sheet series running through September providing useful information to teens on education, funding and more.”
In addition to the promotion and messaging that Seventeen is providing, the campaign also aims to help young people understand the steps to higher education, and the tools and resources that are available to them. These include, registering for SAT and ACT, visiting campuses, filling out FAFSA, and completing at least four college applications.
By targeting the young demographic through the outlets they use most, the campaign hopes to quickly spread their message of higher education.
Better Make Room is part of the Obama administration’s effort to make college easier to access for everyone. It includes simplifying the FAFSA, reforming student aid, and increasing pell grants and education tax credits.
If students are interested in finding out more about the campaign, they can visit Bettermakeroom.org.
Hopefully these efforts will encourage more students to find success through a college education, and promote the academic side of the college experience.