Never underestimate the power of social awareness campaigns.
That’s the lesson we’ve learned during the past month as celebrities, your Facebook friends and people around the world have been dumping buckets of ice water on their heads to raise funds and awareness for ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). Thanks to the #IceBucketChallenge, the ALS Association has raked in more than $100 million and counting.
Piggybacking off the viral sensation, socially savvy college students have decided to use the power of the hastag to draw attention to the cost of higher education.
Called the #PayMyTuitionChallenge, these young men and women are “nominating” the rich and the famous — President Obama, Jay Z, Beyoncé, and Bill Gates to name a few — to pay their college tuition.
MORE: Does Dumping Water on Your Head Actually Work to Raise Awareness?
According to EducationDive, the #PayMyTuitionChallenge hashtag clocked in more than 30,000 tweets in just over 36 hours at a rate of 4,000 student tweets per hour.
And while celebrities have yet to respond to the recent barrage of tweets, the learning management system Blackboard definitely noticed and even launched a scholarship campaign around the challenge.
The company offered one $15,000 award and two $5,000 awards going to the runners-up. To enter, students had fill out a Blackboard website and explain in a video, photo or written response how they will use their education to make the world a better place. The most popular submissions received the scholarships. Blackboard said they received more than 350 entries from all over the world, and last week, the company announced their three winners.
As we’ve previously mentioned, college tuition is only rising and our country’s total student loan debt has soared past a staggering $1 trillion. American grads are saddled with more student loans than ever before, and it’s clear that we have to fix this broken system.
As second place scholarship winner Keeyuania P. from the University of Southern Mississippi said, “Education is one of the best investments a young adult can make. Education has the power to change the world.”
DON’T MISS: Ask the Experts: How Can We Keep From Drowning in College Debt?