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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

July 2, 2009

TRIO student visit

Academic adviser Sarah Bender Miller talked about majors and careers in food and nutrition during part of the students' tour of the College of Human Sciences. Photo by Bob Elbert.

A taste of college life

by Erin Rosacker

A handful of high school sophomores were on campus this week taking part in a program that helps students prepare for college. That may not be surprising, but these 15 high schoolers likely would be the first in their families to receive a college degree -- part of the criteria for the Talent Search program funded by the U.S. Department of Education's TRIO initiative.

Talent Search is just one of the programs offered at Iowa State through TRIO. Others include the Upward Bound, Student Support Services and Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement programs. The federal programs are outreach efforts aimed at economically disadvantaged youth and students with disabilities. They help students explore and chart their academic paths from middle school through higher education (including doctoral) studies.

ISU's Educational Talent Search program partners with five central Iowa school districts (Fort Dodge, Iowa Falls-Alden, Marshalltown, Perry and South Tama), working with about 1,000 students throughout the year. Students in grades six through 12 are selected to participate by school advisers, teachers and counselors. Many different college preparatory experiences are offered through the Talent Search program, including this week's campus visit.

"By the time our students reach their sophomore year, they have had the opportunity to visit at least seven different colleges. However, most have a very limited understanding about majors and careers," said ISU TRIO Talent Search adviser Jessica Rohrig. "This experience was designed to open their eyes to all that is out there. It is really neat to see how students' understanding of their options and their interests developed as a result of these presentations and workshops. We would definitely like to continue offering this program to our students."

TRIO student visit

The teens took part in a food test, using sensory booths to identify different samples. Photo by Bob Elbert.

Talent Search participants arrived in Ames Sunday evening for their "Major Investigation" experience, then spent two days on a whirlwind tour of ISU's colleges. They sampled residence hall life, living at Eaton Hall and dining at the Union Drive Community Center. The students also enjoyed recreational activities, such as a pizza party with the 35 Upward Bound students already on campus for their summer program, a campus scavenger hunt and a dance.

The college workshops and presentations highlighted majors for the students to consider. Some were hands-on activities, such as participation in a food test using the sensory booths in MacKay Hall. Sophomore Alex Nelson of Perry said he was "really impressed" by the electrical engineering demonstration -- an experiment using coils and electricity.

Rohrig said this is the first time ISU has offered a sophomore campus experience since the Educational Talent Search Program was established here in 1978. But, judging by what the students said, the on-campus experience helped some of them envision a future at Iowa State.

"It really influenced me," said Courtney Gordon, who is from Fort Dodge. "I could see the vet programs here and really see myself being here and living in the dorms and learning about what I want to be in the future."

"It's helped me understand the lifestyle of college," said Cortney Wolter, also from Fort Dodge. "It's given me a good perspective of how college is."


More information about the TRIO programs offered at ISU is available online.