Make Room

Better Make Room is a campaign within Reach Higher that celebrates and elevates the stories of Generation Z. It’s about reaching Gen-Z where they are and creating a space for all the great things these young people will do next. It’s about staking a claim, forging a path and lighting the way for others. Get a better education, have a better career, imagine a better future and live a better life. These students are about to arrive—and the world Better Make Room.



UpNext is like having a college counselor in your back pocket.

An initiative of Better Make Room, UpNext is a FREE text-messaging college support tool that gives high school seniors and college students across the country free personalized support on all things college access: college search and application, federal student aid, and even student loan repayment. With the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, We can provide UpNext free of charge, making sure that hundreds of thousands of students have the support they need to reach higher and achieve their dreams of going to college.


Signing Day

Getting into college is a big deal. And we should celebrate that achievement the same way we celebrate the Super Bowl, which is precisely what College Signing Day aims to do. That’s why Mrs. Obama launched Reach Higher in 2014 at a College Signing Day in San Antonio, Texas.

Since then, Reach Higher has helped organize thousands of events with hundreds of thousands of students in all 50 states showing their college pride and creating a college-going culture in their communities. Hosted by schools, organizations, community leaders, and influencers, College Signing Day is a national celebration rallying around local students and celebrating their choices and commitments to higher education.


The Odds

Today, first-generation and low-income students have a 9 percent college graduation rate, compared to 73 percent for their upper income peers. We know we have to do better, including ensuring that college-bound first generation students are set up for success on day one when they arrive on campus.

The Beating the Odds Summit helps combat the phenomenon of “summer melt” by celebrating and encouraging students to persist and attend college in the fall. In 2014, Mrs. Obama met with a small group of ten college-bound students at the White House to celebrate their commitment to education, despite overcoming immense obstacles along their journey to higher education.

Over the years, Mrs.Obama expanded the small gathering to include more college-bound students representing urban, rural, foster, homeless, special needs, and underrepresented youth who had beaten the odds to overcome incredible obstacles to persist through high school and commit to attending a postsecondary institution. During these Beating the Odds Summits, Mrs. Obama invites successful professionals who, like herself, were first-generation college students to inspire students and prepare them for college in the fall, thereby combating summer melt.

Lifting Up

The School Counseling Profession

School counselors are critical to helping students successfully navigate their postsecondary path. But all too often those counselors are understaffed, under-resourced, and simply not present at the leadership table. The average student-to-counselor ratios nears 500 to 1, and in some states has even reached as high as 1,000 to 1, which is why Reach Higher works to lift up and support the school counseling profession.

The School Counselor of the Year award, introduced by the American School Counselor Association in 2008, honors school counselors who devote their careers to advocating for the nation’s students and addressing their academic and social/emotional development and college and career readiness needs. In 2015, Mrs. Obama, in collaboration with Reach Higher, hosted the School Counselor of the Year ceremony at the White House. She has continued to celebrate and support these critical educators annually ever since.

Visit our 2024 College Signing Day website

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Reach Higher is housed within The Common App, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit membership organization.

Reach Higher at Common App

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©2018 Reach Higher


Reach Higher and Better Make Room is housed within Common App, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.