Own Your Own Future
What does “college readiness” really mean? Ultimately, it’s about preparing students with the knowledge, skills and behaviors needed to be successful in their postsecondary studies. While a growing number of students are recognizing the value of a college education or career training, these students count on their schools and communities to help prepare them forsuccess in high school and beyond. Over ten years of collaboration with the Texas Education Agency, the mission of the Texas GEAR UP program has become our own.
AMS Pictures recognized the unique challenges faced not only by students, but by all who help them prepare for college—parents, teachers, counselors and others in their communities. That was the impetus behind our most recent endeavor. In 2010, AMS and Texas GEAR UP expanded our efforts and launched Own Your Own Future (OYOF), a website developed to create more active learning and instructing experiences for everyone involved in the college readiness process. Technology is an important component of this initiative—it engages students with a modern approach to learning and allows for more effective distribution of tools and materials.
Aimed directly at students in grades 7-12, the OYOF website (www.ownyourownfuture.com) speaks to student audiences in their language, offering them 3-5-minute scripted videos with follow-up materials that they can use to enhance their college preparedness. The site uses a “knowledge path” design that directs students to the exact college access information that’s right for them. As students progress through their secondary school careers, OYOF tools and resources provide highly-targeted creative support aimed at helping them navigate the college preparation process on a very clearly defined “roadmap” that ensures they’re hitting all the appropriate milestones throughout their journey to postsecondary success.
The OYOF site also has a section for parents, including robust college-readiness guides for middle-school and high-school parents, as well as an educator portal to provide classroom activities that teachers and counselors can use in tandem with the videos. These particular materials were developed largely in response to feedback from educators saying that there just aren’t huge chunks of time to devote to college prep during the school day. So, by producing shorter, easy-to-digest videos paired with scalable classroom activities, our goal was to make the information as simple as possible to access and incorporate into the curriculum. The feedback coming in from OYOF site users has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic, and we definitely look forward to continuing to grow all the site’s resources over the coming years.
Connecting with these three unique audiences (teens, parents and educators, to be specific) over a ten-year period might be challenging for some. Here at AMS, that just motivates us to continually develop innovative ideas and modern solutions to communicate the college-readiness message. With the launch of a free iPhone- and Android-friendly OYOF app, students can now learn about college readiness with a tool they probably already have in their pocket. Download the Smartphone App now from the Android Marketplace or iTunes. Other recent projects under the Own Your Own Future umbrella that target this student demographic include the use of interactive kiosks and QR codes to complement the on-campus college-readiness curriculum in a select group of high schools. These new methods allow Texas GEAR UP to present information that engages and entertains students while educating them at the same time. It’s also a natural evolution of AMS’ work in the youth-focused educational market as we keep pace with students in the age of 21st-century learning.
These Own Your Own Future initiatives have allowed us to take a multifaceted approach in helping to make postsecondary studies a reality for countless students across Texas. We are thrilled to continue our collaborative partnership with the Texas Education Agency, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds!