Show Transcript
[SOUND] Thank you Mrs, Obama for helping Essence kick off our college tour. So, when we last interviewed you, you were just launching the Reach Higher initiative. We'd love to hear more about all the accomplishments of the program, and what's new, and what's next. Well, a year in, and we've spent this year doing what we talked about. Really Talking about the importance of getting an education beyond high school, and again whether that's a two year or four year college or university. We've been trying to do the most that we can through the administrations. To make college more affordable. To give students the support they need by, for example supporting high school counselors who are often overworked and they don't have the resources to really focus on college preparation. We've been trying to lift them up. We've done some work to make the FAFSA form, the financial aid form, easier to fill out. And beginning next year, students are gonna be able to start filling it out months earlier, which will make it even better. And we've really been trying to engage this country, our leaders, our celebrities, institutions like Essence. You all have always been a leader on having discussions about college and education. We've been working to make these conversations top of mind all around the country, encouraging kids, doing college signing days, and celebrating kids who are going to college, in the same way that we celebrate athletes going pro or you know, folks getting drafted into college for sports. We want to celebrate our kids for getting accredited, so we've I'm trying to make it fun a long way. what would you think are some of the benefits pursuing a commune college education. Well lot of time when I think kids think about college, they think about four year institutions, they think about high costs, they think about moving away from home. All the things that might turn kids off of the concept completely. But in this country, we're fortunate that we have so many options for kids to get their education. And two-year colleges are one of the best ways to do it in an affordable way. Many community colleges are linked up with high schools that allow kids to start taking courses in their sophomore, junior, senior year, and get credit for those courses. And sometimes they can go into community colleges in their second year and get ahead of the curve. For kids who are more non-traditional students Maybe you're a single parent mom. Maybe you already know what you wanna do. You wanna be an EMT and work in an ambulance so you don't wanna spend that time in a four year university getting a liberal arts degree because you wanna get right to work. The other thing about the community colleges is that they provide real training for jobs that actually exist. And we saw that here with the Health Services program to mean the community, the Howard Community College here is connected right to the general hospital. Right next door. And a lot of the kids are already doing internships. And they're gonna be ready to be employed the minute they finish their program. So, We want to make sure that kids in this country know that those options are available to them. And for so many, that's gonna be the best way to go, a two year community college. You're a first generation college kid. And so many of our African American students are the first in their families to go to college. If you had one thing that you could share that you wish you knew starting out. What would you say to a young black woman starting out in college? So much. So much. But I think if I have to sum it up I would say do your research. You know and if you can go and visit the college or program that you're gonna participate in so that you have some idea. If you cant afford to do the visit talk to an alum, talk to a current student, go on the website. Sort of have a sense of what The experience is gonna be like for you. For me, when I set foot on my campus it was like, where am I? How do you live in a dorm? How do you choose classes? Now kids can reach out and get that kind of help, but they have to kind of search around and do the work. The other thing I always tell kids is don't be afraid to ask for help, the minute you walk on campus. Find your community Whether it's a cultural center or a sports team if you're lucky enough. Or making sure that you link up with somebody on the faculty who you connect with. Ask for help when you need it. Find out what tutoring programs there are to offer if you find yourself being overwhelmed. Don't wait until the end of the semester or the end of the quarter to think, oh my god I'm drowning. Start asking for help the minute you get on campus and don't think asking for help makes you weak. It makes you smart. Thank you Mrs. Obama for encouraging all of us to retire. Thank you, thanks for everything you all are doing for our kids. I'm proud of you.

ESSENCE Talks to Michelle Obama About Getting More Kids to College

In an exclusive interview with ESSENCE, Michelle Obama discusses college readiness and what’s next for her Reach Higher initiative.