- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 30, 2014

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The University of Southern California is among 24 colleges and universities picked by the U.S. Education Department for a federal “First in the World” grant to foster innovation, officials said Tuesday.

The $3.2 million will go toward expanding a role-playing video game called “Mission: Admission” that is designed to help students learn to navigate the college application process, USC researcher Zoe Corwin said.

The university started the Facebook game to make the process less intimidating for low-income students who are often the first in their families to go to college. The game allows young people to have fun while familiarizing them with the language and rules of the college application process, Corwin said.

“It’s just like when you play Monopoly or chess, once you play and make mistakes, you adjust your strategy and learn to master your skills,” she said.

Over the course of four years, the project team will implement the college application game across the state through a Web-based platform that students can access on their mobile devices. So far, 3,000 students have played the game, Corwin said.

The grant will also fund research to assess whether the game leads more underserved students to apply to college.

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