USC Rossier turns college access into a capital idea
The USC Rossier School of Education co-hosted a screening of the documentary First Generation for nearly 150 Congressional staff members, federal agency officials and education advocacy organizations in Washington, D.C., on April 24.
The screening served as an opportunity to educate policymakers and government officials about the challenges faced by first-generation and low-income students to attain college access. It also provided innovative solutions to improving the success of these underrepresented groups.
First Generation, which tells the story of four California high school students who set out to break the cycle of poverty by pursuing a college education, features interviews with experts on the crisis of college access, such as University Professor William G. Tierney.
The screening was followed by a panel discussion about the issues raised in the film with Tierney, White House Senior Policy Adviser for Education Zakiya Smith, who talked about President Obama’s current push to keep student loan interest rates from increasing, as well as the students featured in the film. USC Rossier dean Karen Symms Gallagher moderated the discussion.
Prior to the screening, USC Federal Relations took the students featured in the film – an inner-city athlete, a small-town waitress, a Samoan warrior dancer and the daughter of migrant field workers – on visits with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.). Sanchez talked to the students about her own experience when she applied for college.
Sponsored by the Lumina Foundation and co-hosted by The Raben Group, the event allowed USC Rossier leaders to share successes of the Collegeology suite of games that help underserved students on their paths to college. The games help mitigate the lack of resources in urban areas like Los Angeles, where there is only one guidance counselor for every 800 high school students.
Research has shown that the Collegeology Games increase college-going efficacy and levels of college knowledge for students who play them. A Facebook application of one of the games, “Mission Admission,” is expected to launch in May.
“The problem is that you have [academics] designing outreach materials, but we need to reach kids where they are,” Tierney told the audience. “Kids are on Facebook, and we have to reach them through that.”