For some students, college is always on their radar, but differences in access, education, family traditions and location may keep some graduates from knowing how to make decisions about their future in higher education that are right for them. For students in Emporia, Leavenworth and Atchison, Emporia State University’s Talent Search program is helping bridge the gap between high school and postsecondary education.
Talent Search is a federal Department of Education TRIO program providing free college-readiness activities for 6th – 12th grade students as well as students in alternative high school/GED programs. Monthly grade-level workshops focus on topics such as strengths development, study skills, time management, leadership development, career exploration, financial literacy, stress management, ACT prep and college awareness.
Participants receive academic, career, and financial counseling designed to meet their individual needs as they prepare for and enroll in a university, college, or technical program.
“TRIO was able to help me pinpoint what I was looking for in a college,” said an ESU Talent Search participant from Atchison. “They also showed me things like how to navigate a college website, something that seems so simple but can actually be difficult, as well as explaining how to do financial aid and apply to schools. TRIO was also the reason I was able to take the ACT for free.”
About two-thirds of the participants in the Talent Search program are first-generation students, meaning their parents or guardians have not completed a four-year degree. Programs that support these students are especially important in providing access to education surrounding postsecondary decisions.
Ruben Rodriguez, a registered nurse in the ER at Newman Regional Health in Emporia, participated in TRIO Talent Search during high school before completing a BSN at Emporia State.
“TRIO Talent Search really helped me out with understanding the basics of what college was going to be like. As a first-generation student, I had no one at home I could go to for help and that’s where I felt TRIO helped me out if I had questions.”
Talent Search provides students wanting to learn more about the college experience and how to apply opportunities to attend campus visits, participate in campus events and attend summer programs.
For the 2018-2019 grant year, the ESU Talent Search program had a 100% graduation rate for senior participants. Additionally, 61% of those seniors enrolled in a postsecondary education program following high school graduation.
Ciara McCaskill, a Talent Search participant from Leavenworth, summed up her experience, “TRIO propelled me to change the things I wanted to change and to do the things I never thought I could do.”
Those interested in learning more about or joining the Talent Search program can visit the website at emporia.edu/trio.