The U.S. Department of Education has awarded the University of California a $3.2 million grant to study a video game that assists students through the college application process.
Mission: Admission is a real-time simulation of the process: how to write admissions essays and personal statements, send high school transcripts, ask for letters of recommendation, and apply for financial aid. All these steps can be an overwhelming for high school students, especially when deadlines are creeping up. This year, the FAFSA filing season kicks off on October 1, instead of the normal start date of January 1.
The Mission: Admission video game was first released in California in 2014 and was available as a card game and a Facebook game. It was developed by both USC’s Pullias Center for Higher Education and Game Innovation Lab. If the Department of Education study is successful, the game may be made available to students nationwide.
“Billions of dollars are spent on college access every year. We’re not doing something right,” Dr. Zoe Corwin from the Pullias Center told Polygon. “We can’t do more of what we’ve been doing for so many years. Mission: Admission is an attempt to do something different.”
“There’s so much financial aid out there that goes un-asked-for, that kids don’t know how to access,” she added. “We’re showing the kids that they can afford college. Just apply.”
Corwin is the author of a report, “Improving Access to College Through Games, Technology, and Social Media.”
So far, the game has been met with mixed reviews from school administrators and students. Some schools are reluctant to take time out of class to introduce the game and allow students to access it on school computers.