First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Better Make Room” Campaign’s Focus Is on High School

Posted By Eliana Osborn on November 20, 2015 at 3:12 pm
First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Better Make Room” Campaign’s Focus Is on High School

First Lady Michelle Obama has a new campaign to get high school students into college and continuing their education. “Better Make Room” targets youth age 14-19 with partnerships in media as well as with corporations and foundations that focus on higher education.

The idea here is to think about what comes next, recognizing that finishing high school is not enough to provide for a solid future in today’s world. Better Make Room strives to open a conversation about what all the next possibilities might mean, not just the traditional path of heading to a four-year school and figuring out some kind of degree.

According to the Better Make Room website, the goals of this initiative are simple: “Take the next step: Get a better education, have a better career, imagine a better future and live a better life.”

Mrs. Obama’s previous education initiative is called Reach Higher, begun in May 2014, with a focus on students doing something after high school to increase their education and marketability. Reach Higher does this through more counseling about careers, exposing students to post-high school opportunities, informing about financial aid, and planning ahead.

Better Make Room furthers the mission of Reach Higher, bringing the reality of forward thinking down to the very youngest high school students. Mrs. Obama’s own success is something she attributes to getting herself to college and then law school. In an op-ed when Reach Higher was introduced, she wrote, “all of us adults—teachers, administrators, and policymakers—have to do a better job of giving them the best schools and opportunities for their future, at the end of the day, they also need to step up and take responsibility for their education themselves.” If young people want a bright future, they will have to work hard to make that happen instead of hoping success will fall into their laps.

Better Make Room will “celebrate student stories” to show the myriad ways Generation Z is taking control of their future. There’s also the less glamorous side of things—sharing information about SAT and ACT testing or how to fill out the FAFSA. This public awareness campaign will draw attention to President Obama’s stated goal of America leading the world in college graduates by 2020.

As Better Make Room has rolled out, partners are already making themselves known. LeBron James, Funny or Die, CW Network, Ciara, and so many other people and entities are bringing a pop culture edge to the sometimes dreary conversation about continuing education.

Eliana Osborn
Eliana Osborn is an associate English professor at Arizona Western College, with degrees from Brigham Young University and Northern Arizona University. She’s published widely in forums such as The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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