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First Lady Announces Higher Education Initiative

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First Lady Announces Higher Education Initiative

During the culmination of a week-long “college celebration” in San Antonio, TX on the importance of completing postsecondary education, First Lady Michelle Obama announced the name of her latest initiative, Reach Higher. This promising education-access initiative is billed as an effort to “inspire every student to take charge of their future by completing their education past high school.”

Reach Higher is intended to ensure students understand the importance of continuing their education beyond a high school diploma, including:

  • Exposing students to college and career opportunities 
  • Helping students understand financial aid eligibility that can make college affordable 
  • Encouraging academic planning and summer learning opportunities 
  • Supporting high school counselors who can guide students’ exploration of their postsecondary education options 

During her remarks at the San Antonio event, the First Lady said:

“Reach Higher is my new initiative, and it’s about inspiring every student in America to take charge of their future by completing their education past high school -- whether at a professional training program, or a community college, or a four-year university or college… [We] know that in today’s world, a high school degree simply isn’t enough.  To get a good job, to compete, you have got to reach higher.” 

However, the resources provided on the Reach Higher website must include greater discussion of less than two-year postsecondary opportunities for students. Currently, the only resources available on the Reach Higher website are the U.S. Department of Education’s college scorecard, net price calculator, college navigator and financial aid websites, which are all focused on traditional two- and four-year postsecondary degree programs. 

In keeping with the First Lady’s remarks about the importance of completing education past high school along a wide variety of potential paths, additional resources should be provided to help students exploring postsecondary education opportunities that are less than two-years but offer valued, well-paying careers upon completion. The U.S. Department of Labor’s MyNextMove.org is an example of one such resource, which has basic information about career opportunities including job availability outlook, industry-recognized credentials, expected salaries and postsecondary education and training opportunities. 

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