AT&T Moves Up the School Popularity Chain

Carrie Schmelkin : Gossip from the Hallways
Carrie Schmelkin
Web Editor, TMC

AT&T Moves Up the School Popularity Chain

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for College AdmissionsWhen it comes to technology giants out there, many have emerged as popular kids on campus.

Of course, there is Apple who probably has way more clout than that varsity basketball player or president of Greek life as the empire paved the way for tablets in school and introduced Siri whose job, amongst other things, is to coordinate “Thirsty Thursday” plans. Then, of course, there is Amazon which made it easy to buy coveted school supplies, eReaders and, perhaps most importantly, provided an alternative way to purchase college textbooks to save a few bucks for those beers. 

This week, I have to give credit where credit is due and draw your attention to quiet kid in the backseat of your class – you know the one who is frequently overlooked because of boisterous iPhone, BlackBerry and SparkNotes? So, students, say hello to AT&T – that kid in class that deserves a high five or at least a cursory hello.

Recently AT&T announced that it is launching a quarter-billion dollar campaign to help more students receive their high school diplomas, head off to college, and situate America in a better spot to meet rising global competition. The AT&T Aspire campaign, already amongst the most significant U.S. corporate educational initiatives with more than $100 million invested since 2008, identifies high school students at risk of dropping out and encourages them to stay by employing a “socially innovative” approach. Simply put, AT&T will couple traditional campaign efforts with social media and technology innovation to help keep kids in school.

To date, the Aspire effort has already helped more than one million U.S. high school students and prepared them for success in the workplace and college.

"AT&T Aspire works toward an America where every student graduates high school equipped with the knowledge and skills to strengthen the nation's workforce," AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson said during a recent keynote address.

The telecommunications company’s latest effort is worthy of praise. With so many technological innovators today are inadvertently (and intentionally) paving the way for kids to underachieve, it is nice to see one take a stance against dropping out of school. Whether its app developers spearheading a cheating app, Spark Notes creating a site so that kids don’t have to do the reading, or Apple unintentionally equipping students with iPads in class – which although has countless benefits – to makes it easier for coeds to play Words with Friends instead of listening to their sociology lecture.

In fact, some kids become so adroit at using technology that by age 17 they would rather go and work for a tech giant as opposed to attend college; after all, if Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg balked at college, why can’t they?

But students ought to go to college. Even if it’s not right away, students should find a way to enroll at a university as college presents a myriad of opportunities for students to learn about themselves, challenge their belief systems and learn to work in teams and independently.

So kudos AT&T for recognizing that although some of the best minds in the space have been school dropouts, high school education is paramount in today’s increasingly competitive marketplace. I’d save you a seat at the lunch table.

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