Tuesday, September 27, 2016

                                What to Know Before You Go Launch Year

Academic Talent Search’s purpose is to motivate and aid middle and high school students in attending a four-year institution, but how do we stay connected with our alumni? This year we launched our first official alumni reunion on July 29th at Sonoma State University. The idea came about when Student Assistant, Maria Nolasco, thought about having a last minute crash course session for all first time freshmen about what they need to know before hitting the college road. Having an alumni student panel seemed ideal so that our new high school grads could hear firsthand from other ATS alumni about what their college experience has been like thus far, so the planning for the alumni reunion began.
            New strategies to keep connected with alumni have been implemented including creating an ATS’ Instagram page, @academictalentsearch, surveys for alumni participation in future events, and special announcement emails. We were very happy with the positive feedback we received from our alumni and we would love to see even more of our alumni as possible at future events.
            The day of What to Know Before You Go arrived and the whole ATS team was on deck. The morning session included a “fill in the gaps” info session that helped answer any last minute questions that in-coming college freshmen had. Advisor Vanessa Bascherini from the Academic Advising for Undeclared Students department at SSU gave the students a presentation about finding helpful resources on campus.
          After our college bound students had their last minute college crash course session everyone headed over to the Cooperage for the Alumni Lunch Reception. As the senior alumni arrived they quickly found their name badges then grabbed a hamburger, chips, and drink for lunch. To break the ice students ran around the room trying to find out who has ridden a hot air balloon or has ever met a celebrity as part of their People Bingo game. Once everyone felt comfortable around each other we headed into the alumni Q&A session where we found out how the transition from high school student to college student went for our senior alumni. We also explored what makes their schools unique, how they handled homesickness and how they decided what they were going to study. All alumni then stuck around after the panel session to chat amongst themselves and take pictures at our college bound themed photo booth area. First-time freshmen asked graduates from their schools where the best place to eat is, which professors to avoid, and more throughout the afternoon. New connections were made and old ones were reinforced. We are looking forward to more future alumni events!