‘Better Make Room’ for a Better Future

Editor’s Note: This post was written by Dennis Murphy, a former Alpha Delta Omicron chapter officer from Middlesex Community College in Massachusetts. It was submitted by the Better Make Room campaign.

Right now, you should text “COLLEGE” to 44044. Here’s why.

Many of you are about to start that first great step toward the career of your dreams. I know I’m working toward that myself — and I also know that my college education has been crucial to getting me here.

President Obama has made it a top priority to increase college attendance and completion rates across the country. Supporting this work, First Lady Michelle Obama — a first-generation college alumna herself — recently launched Up Next, a Better Make Room text-messaging campaign that gives students free personalized support on everything you need to get to college and graduate.

Better Make Room’s campaign helps high school and college students complete all the steps needed to make their own path through college. Any student can text “COLLEGE” to 44044 and increase his or her chances of beating the odds.

We all know that the path to and through college can be a tough one. We all need more support, more information and more access to financial resources. Up Next will send you reminders and tips about everything from financial aid deadlines and finding support on campus to student loan repayment.

If you’re in high school, you can also get support for things like signing up for the SAT or ACT, searching for and applying to colleges and completing the FAFSA. And if you still have more questions, Up Next has real-life college advisors who can work with you over text to help you succeed.

Dr. Ben Castleman, a professor at the University of Virginia, has studied text-based campaigns like Up Next. His research shows that these campaigns can significantly increase students’ college enrollment and graduation. As an intern with Better Make Room, I am proud to be part of their team and to play a role in increasing our generation’s access to higher education.

Two years ago, my life changed forever. I had always hoped that I would go to college, but my family was struggling, and the world around me didn’t seem to understand what I was up against. Then I was granted a new chance in life — a scholarship to pursue an education at American University after transferring from a local community college.

I’ve been extremely fortunate to have this kind of support. But I wish I had been enrolled in Up Next during some of those crucial moments, when I began to wonder about things like applying for financial aid or starting college as a freshman or transferring to a four-year university. Life would have been a lot simpler if I had had someone guiding me step by step — and with something as easy as texting.

So, I’m encouraging you and every college or high school student you know — especially those who might have the odds stacked against them — to join the First Lady’s college support campaign by texting “COLLEGE” to 44044. It’s that simple.

Also, this Friday, September 30th, Better Make Room is hosting an Up Next Day of Action. Students, schools, communities and organizations across the country are taking action to get students signed up for Up Next and to celebrate the road to a postsecondary degree. Find out how your school or organization can get involved by checking out the Up Next Day of Action Toolkit.

Already signed up? Here’s what you can do to help spread the word:

  1. Tell students, parents and counselors about Up Next.
  2. Share about Up Next on social media using the hashtag #BetterMakeRoom. You can tag Better Make Room and even give the First Lady a shout-out.
  3. Grab a piece of paper and write “#BetterMakeRoom,” then post a picture of yourself with it to social media. (You can also post a screenshot of your first text exchange with Up Next using the same hashtag.)
  4. Print this sign and put it up in classrooms, community spaces, wherever other students can learn more about it.

Thanks for joining the First Lady’s campaign! Once every student has the college support he or she needs, we can ensure that our generation will be among the best educated and the most able to make a difference. The world Better Make Room.