College & Workforce Readiness

First Lady Makes Rap Video About Importance of Going to College

By Catherine Gewertz — December 10, 2015 2 min read
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President Obama grabbed the biggest education spotlight Thursday when he signed the Every Student Succeeds Act into law. But first lady Michelle Obama got a slice, too, when she issued a video that features her rapping about the importance of going to college.

In the two-minute video, posted today on YouTube, Mrs. Obama teams up with Jay Pharoah from “Saturday Night Live.” Using the White House as a backdrop, they blend humor, catchy rhymes, and dance moves into a message about the potential rewards of college.

“If you wanna fly jets you should go to college/reach high and cash checks/fill your head with knowledge/If you wanna watch paint don’t go to college/But for everything else, you should go to college,” sing Pharoah and Obama.

The first lady’s video gives a particularly high profile to potential math and science majors, echoing a pair of favorite themes of the Obama White House: college is important, and STEM careers offer great potential rewards for students’ future earnings and America’s competitiveness.

Astrologers won’t be fans of the video. But you’ll have to watch it to see why.

The video fits in with Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher initiative, which urges all students to get training or education beyond high school. The new video kicks off a piece of that work, the “Better Make Room” campaign, which seeks to “reach students directly where they are” with the message that college can make a pivotal difference in their futures. It’s aimed at students 14 to 19 years old.

The video was made by one of the White House’s partners in the Better Make Room campaign, CollegeHumor, which makes comedy videos aimed at young people. Another of its partners, Seventeen Magazine, proclaimed in a big headline: “Michelle Obama’s First Rap Video Will Make You Want To Go To College.”

Other glowing reviews are stacking up.

“As if we didn’t already think Michelle Obama was the chillest FLOTUS yet, her new rap video will make you love her even more (and want to go to college),” said The Huffington Post.

The Washington Post commended the First Lady for her “willingness and comfort with engaging in all things zeitgeisty.”

”... she’s not afraid to acknowledge the cornball move and fully lean into it anyway, whether it be in the name of higher education or encouraging us to eat well and drink more water alongside the Miami Heat,” the Post said, referring to another video she made for her “Let’s Move” health-and-exercise campaign.

A version of this news article first appeared in the High School & Beyond blog.