The White House is honoring College Counselors for the first time this year.

Alicia Maule of MSNBC writes:

Michelle Obama: College counselors are key

For the first time in history, the National School Counselor of the Year will be honored at the White House. The initiative was developed as a means to provide college counselors with more support since they are “key” in helping students achieve an education beyond high school, wrote first lady Michelle Obama in an op-ed for USA Today. Her announcement came just a few weeks after President Barack Obama proposed making two years of community college free for all students who qualify.

Students with bachelor degrees make an average of $16,000 more per year than those with just a high school diploma. ”The facts are very clear: if we want America to compete in the global marketplace, all of our young people will need some kind of education beyond high school,” the first lady wrote.

Obama reflected on her childhood growing up on the South Side of Chicago, where the path to college was uncertain. “Neither of my parents and hardly anyone in my neighborhood had gone beyond high school,” she explained. Obama also pointed out that while her parents wanted their children to get good educations, they weren’t sure how to go about ensuring that.

Obama’s older brother, Craig Robinson, was accepted to Princeton University, and he helped guide her through the college process. She noted that her high school didn’t have much to offer for counseling. The first lady followed her brother to Princeton, where she graduated cum laude and earned a Bachelor of Arts before continuing her education at Harvard Law School. She considers herself lucky but sees a clear inequality in counseling support around the country.