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Games teach students how to prepare for college


Friday, March 28, 2014

Applying to colleges is a complicated process for any student, but it can be particularly tough on those who are the first in their family to pursue higher education. Whether you are a first-generation college student or you just need help learning the ins and outs of the college search, you need to know where to get reliable, user-friendly advice and information. In addition to your school counselor, teachers, parents and Web sites, there is a new resource.

Researchers at the University of Southern California's Game Innovation Lab decided to tackle this problem in a unique way: through games.

Games provide insight to the application process
Games have long been used as an educational tool. The latest example is FutureBound? Games, a resource created by the Game Innovation Lab. The creators behind this project set out to make a series of games that could teach high school students the basics of college admissions as well as some of the strategies they should know before applying.

"High school students, particularly in underserved areas, were not getting the kind of college counseling they needed," Tracy Fullerton, the director of the Game Innovation Lab, told The Journal, a publication dedicated to K-12 education technology. "Even those kids with good grades and ambitions to go to college didn't understand the strategy behind going to college."

The creators hope that this suite of games will provide another layer of support for students, as well as some valuable insight into the realities of higher education.

Teaching students about the college search
FutureBound currently offers four separate games for middle school and high school students. One game, "Graduate Strike Force," focuses on describing the basics of college financial aid. It also provides tips for choosing the best-fit college—all while students fight giant monsters, according to FutureBound's Web site.

Other games from the company offer similar benefits. "Mission: Admission," for example, provides information on the skills students will use when applying to colleges. This can even be played on social media sites like Facebook, giving students an easy way to access the resource. The game "FutureBound" allows users to take their digital character on a journey from middle school to college. Along the way, they take steps to prepare the character for higher education by overcoming common obstacles and honing important skills in the process.

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