State Journal

Pitching College to a Wider Crowd

Ad campaigns to recruit reluctant high schoolers.

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“Think college isn’t for you? Think again.”

That’s the message from two state departments of education seeking to reach high school students who might not know what they’re missing. And the states are putting some advertising money behind the pitch.

In Massachusetts, the education department, in conjunction with the state’s board of higher education, is using part of a $2 million grant from the National Governors Association to launch a four-month college-readiness campaign urging students to “think again” about their postsecondary plans.

The campaign includes radio and television advertisements, posters, and fliers, all of which feature students from Boston Arts Academy, a 400-student public high school for the visual and performing arts. The ads encourage students to visit, a Web site operated by the state that contains tips on taking college-preparatory courses, choosing a school, and applying for financial aid, for example.

“Too often, students write off college because they think they won’t get in, can’t afford it, or just don’t want to go,” Commissioner of Education David P. Driscoll said in a press release. “We need to change the mind-set so that college becomes a given, not a question.”

Last month, Indiana kicked off its own outreach campaign, KnowHow2GoIndiana. Aimed at students in grades 8-10 from low-income and first-generation-college families, the two-year campaign includes commercials, print advertising, direct mail, community outreach, and a Web site,

According to the Indiana Department of Education, the program offers information on the steps students need to take to turn their college aspirations into reality. Among that advice: “Be a pain,” “Push yourself,” “Find the right fit,” and “Put your hands on some cash.”

The campaign, partially funded through a $200,000 grant from the Lumina Foundation, as well as pro bono work and donated ad space, is part of a larger state effort to boost the educational attainment of its residents and a national college-preparatory campaign sponsored by the Lumina Foundation, the Ad Council, and the American Council on Education.

Vol. 26, Issue 22, Page 15

Published in Print: February 7, 2007, as Pitching College to a Wider Crowd
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