Juniors at over 50 high schools will be beginning their Mission Admission challenge. We’ve told you a bit about the grant in our earlier blogs, but what’s going on now?
I went to a couple of schools last week and I’ll give you a little insight into how the challenge will look. There are three main parts: the buy-in, the pre-survey, and the game play.
School buy-in or investment in the intervention will vary. I spoke to a high school about the Mission Admission challenge. I wanted to try my best to get it right—convey the relevance of the grant, the struggles we’re facing in implementation, and how the students will play an integral role. This was difficult given that the assembly was an hour before school ended on a Friday, but I think (hope) I helped excite the students about the challenge. Earlier that morning, at a different school, I spoke to three classes full of juniors about what we were doing right before they took the survey.
The survey is where we’ll be getting a lot of good data. We will learn about what students know about college, the FAFSA, asking for recommendations, and demographic information. After students take the survey, we want them to play the game in class to get started and hopefully get excited.
I was fortunate enough to see some of the students play the game. The students played the game on chromebooks that were in a laptop cart in the classroom. Aside from a few surveys that students had to reload and do over, the implementation went off without a hitch. Students did not have many questions about how to play and were more energetic than I would have expected about earning points. I’m very happy with how that school’s implementation is going, but that’s just one of the first steps.
Over the next few weeks we’ll be stopping by schools, helping out with buy-in and implementation, and supporting wherever we can to help this challenge run smoothly. A lot of the work, however, will be on the staff and student ambassadors. The student ambassadors are seniors and juniors tasked with getting their peers excited about the game. They have to be the Mission Admission experts. Their role is critical because we can’t ask schools to have students play the game every day. Students might be motivated to play on their own with the help of teachers, ambassadors, and counselors.
This really is a collaborative effort where we stand to learn a lot about technology in classrooms and college readiness. Most importantly, this is a widespread effort to demystify the college application process.
A big part of Mission Admission is the game, yet we understand that applying to college is not a game. I don’t need to emphasize the importance of college. At many of the schools, counselors and school administrators hammer home the importance of college to students. I can tell. I can tell from the way some schools put the names of students who get accepted to college on the banner outside, the college posters, the involved counselors, and the atmosphere of the school. You can tell a lot about a culture by what and whom they glorify.
It’s important to put college on a pedestal. But this pedestal is more of a step. It’s attainable. We want, through this intervention, to find out if we can take some of the guessing out of the college application process.