Understand the barriers, first-hand, that prevent your students from succeeding and reaching their goals
The Finish Line Game has been helping college teams have those sometimes difficult, yet robust discussions surrounding student success and equity. Achieving the Dream’s newly enhanced version of the Finish Line Game enables teams to walk in the shoes of ten students,as they navigate their journeys through college and explore the impact of college policies, practices, and culture on student progress and success. It’s a valuable professional development tool and it’s also fun. You can order your own Finish Line Game below.
"The Finish Line Game was very eye-opening. It created conversations about all the factors that help and hinder student progress. It reminded staff that so much of student success occurs outside the classroom.” - Administrator, Northcentral Technical College, WI
Purpose of the Game
ATD’s Finish Line Game helps increase awareness of the barriers to student success. Community college faculty, administration, and trustees will have a richer understanding of the journey of today’s college student, particularly low-income students and students of color.
“The Finish Line game led to an examination of policies, practices, and procedures related to student success, a discussion on how to increase awareness of resources available to students, and ways to increase community engagement and support from the MC Foundation.”- Staff Member, Montgomery College, MD
The Unique Value of a Game Format
The Finish Line Game spurs personal and institutional development and growth through conversation in a comfortable environment where participants think about how to offer holistic support to ensure the success of every student.
Using a game format empowers colleges to:
- Establish a shared understanding of the barriers to student success and equity.
- Help participants broaden their understanding of the college’s role in student success.
- Create a relaxed environment that facilitates open, respectful conversation about challenging topics.
- Name and discuss common myths about student success.
- Inspire participants’ creativity and engage their critical thinking skills to generate ideas and questions about institutional capacities.
"My team recognized how difficult it was for someone who is a minority or economically disadvantaged to get ahead & succeed, whereas someone who is financially stable & is white has some privileges and accessibility to support that allows them to succeed." - Staff Member, Northcentral Technical College, WI
“The Finish Line Game offers the unique opportunity to have fun during meetings while participating in an insightful exchange of knowledge and best practices.”- Administrator, Montgomery College, MD
“The game served as the springboard for a revealing conversation about the importance of faculty compassion for grieving students.” – Staff Member, Montgomery College, MD
“Throughout the game, participants would be upset when the students experienced setbacks, and celebrate when the students made progress and achieved success. The experience of playing the game was time well spent.” - Organizer, Northcentral Technical College, WI
Frequently Asked Questions
Who should play the game?
Most commonly, community colleges have used the game to engage a broad range of stakeholders including faculty, staff, administrators, board of trustees, students, and community partners and employers in better understanding the full student experience.
How can we use the game?
Colleges have been creative in how they have used the game to generate robust discussion and new ideas to support student success. However, the most common uses of the game include: professional development for faculty, staff, and administration; onboarding new faculty and staff; awareness building for board of trustees; in-service or convocation activities; classroom activities, particularly for social science or education courses. Additionally, foundations that invest in higher education have also used our game as a professional development tool.
Each game comes with a comprehensive organizer guide that helps you think through how to design and prepare for your session(s).
What comes in a game set?
Each game set includes:
• One game board
• Ten sets of student profile cards
• Ten game pieces
• One die
• One organizer guide
• One copy of ATD’s Statement on Equity
• One copy of recommended questions for an exploratory discussion (level 1)
• One copy of recommended questions for a more advanced discussion (level 2)
How can I buy the game?
The game can be purchased
- invoice/ purchase order.
For invoice billing, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and include the following information:
Game Order Information
Email address *
Phone Number *
Address Line 1 *
Address Line 2
Postal Code *
Number of Games *
Date Games are Needed *
Orders may take about 4-6 weeks to fill.
I’m not from a college in the Achieving the Dream Network. Can I still buy the game?
Absolutely! Anyone is welcome to purchase the game.
How much does the game cost? Is there a limit to the number of games I can purchase?
For ATD Network Colleges, the game costs $59.00 per game. For those outside the ATD Network, the cost is $69.00 per game.
How do I know how many games to purchase?
Each game “set” can engage up to 10 participants at once (there are ten student personas). We do not recommend using the game for groups of fewer than 5 individuals.
Please contact us with your question(s) at email@example.com.
Share the Achieving the Dream Equity Statement with your institution!
Make an impactful statement about your institution's commitment to intentional college design for ensuring each student receives what is needed to be successful.
ACHIEVING THE DREAM: EQUITY STATEMENT
Community colleges are an indispensable asset in our nation’s efforts to ensure and preserve access to higher education and success for all students, particularly students of color, low-income students, and other historically underrepresented student populations1. However, student access and success in higher education continue to be impacted by the effects of structural racism and systemic poverty. Achievement gaps among student groups reflect structural inequities that are often the result of historic and systemic social injustices. These inequities typically manifest themselves as the unintended or indirect consequences of unexamined institutional or social policies.
Achieving the Dream believes that access to a high-quality education in an inclusive environment is the right of all individuals and imperative for the continued advancement of a strong democracy and workforce. Achieving the Dream also believes higher education institutions have an obligation to work toward equity for their students. Equity is grounded in the principle of fairness. In higher education, equity refers to ensuring that each student receives what they need to be successful through the intentional design of the college experience.
Achieving the Dream expects colleges to dismantle the barriers facing underserved students. Colleges must routinely scrutinize structural barriers to equity and invest in equity-minded policies, practices, and behaviors that lead to success for all students.
 Examples of historically underrepresented students include but are not limited to: first-generation, low-income, students of color; adult students; marginalized orientations, gender identities, and intersex students; students with second-language backgrounds; undocumented students; veterans; students with disabilities; students with dependents; foster care youth; and formerly and currently incarcerated students.