February 15, 2012
12-40

Malynda Dorsey
Communications Specialist

VSU Introduces the Talent Search Program

VALDOSTA -- The Office of Social Equity (OSE) continues its quest to reach area students before they finish grade school and ensure they are fully prepared to transition into postsecondary education with its implementation of the Talent Search program at Valdosta State University.

Funded by a grant from the Department of Education, Talent Search identifies students from disadvantaged backgrounds who have the potential to succeed in a college or university and provides academic, career and financial counseling. In addition to academic assistance and career and financial counseling, the Talent Search program will also provide opportunities for college tours and exposure to cultural enrichment. The goal of the program is to identify students who have the talent or potential for success in college but for any number of reasons don’t perceive themselves to be individuals that could succeed in the postsecondary setting. Once identified, the goal is to increase the persistence and graduation rates as well as the college attendance rates of those students.

Services provided by the Talent Search program include career exploration and aptitude assessment, exposure to college campuses, assistance in completing college admissions and financial aid applications, assistance in preparing for college entrance exams, mentoring programs and workshops for the families of participants. Talent Search will complement and extend the services and resources already provided by VSU’s Upward Bound program.

We are very excited about receiving the Talent Search grant because it will allow us to expand on the work that Upward Bound is already doing,” said Dr. Maggie Viverette, director of the Office of Social Equity. “The Upward Bound program limits participation to 60 students from Valdosta High School. The Talent Search program, will allow us to work with up to 500 middle and high school students from Valdosta City Schools and Brooks County Schools."

Currently, Upward Bound students attend mentoring and tutorial sessions on VSU’s campus. Viverette said that more site-based activities will be provided through Talent Search since it reaches a wider array of students.

The five-year $1.15 million project will serve students Valdosta Early College Academy, Valdosta Middle and High Schools, Newbern Middle School and Brooks County Middle and High Schools.

“We are hopeful and confident that this program will aid in increasing graduation rates, boost test scores, raise grade point averages and mentally prepare participating students for their educational journeys after high school graduation,” Viverette said.