ASU Outreach

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ASU offers many outreach programs to help future students consider postsecondary education as a primary goal. ASU Educational Outreach Assistant Vice President Sylvia Symonds talks about some of the programs.

José Cárdenas: ASU offers many outreach programs to help future students consider post-secondary education as a primary goal. Here to talk about some of the programs is Sylvia Symonds, assistant vice-president for ASU educational outreach and student services. Thanks for joining us this evening.

Sylvia Symonds: Thank you for having me.

José Cárdenas: This has been a topic we've covered in the past, but there's always something new and it bears repeating some of the things that have been done by ASU in this area. One of them I know is earn to learn. Tell us about that program.

Sylvia Symonds: Sure. Arizona state University earn to learn is a program that offers students the opportunity to earn a savings match at a rate of 8-1. If a student saves, for instance, $500, ASU has the opportunity to match that savings for up to $4,000.

José Cárdenas: In scholarship.

Sylvia Symonds: In scholarship funds, yes.

José Cárdenas: And when can students start on this?

Sylvia Symonds: Students can start on this, we really focus this program on juniors and seniors, and students can utilize the funding toward their tuition, either when they become freshmen at ASU or while they're still in high school to take courses at ASU as well.

José Cárdenas: What kind of success have you seen?

Sylvia Symonds: We've seen students really develop that pattern of savings. And the great thing about the program is that it not only includes that scholarship funding, but there's also a mentoring piece, students have an opportunity to connect with an ASU student who can sort of really help them chart their course, answer those questions, connect with them on a deeper level, they also receive personal finance training. And so the students really and the families understand the importance of developing early the savings habits, which will really serve them well as they prepare for college.

José Cárdenas: Now, one of the things that you've done is you talked about preparing for college, mentoring. One of the issues for students is, what do I want to be? And you've got something to help them determine that.

Sylvia Symonds: Yes. We have a brand-new app called me 3, and what it does, it allows students to take an assessment based on a model which essentially walks you through several pairs of pictures on their phones. And the students will pick which picture they have a higher level of affinity with, or which picture they identify more with. Once the student goes through a series of these matches, they are given three different careers that might align with their interests. And in those careers are aligned with ASU majors. So the students come to understand the different career pathways they might take, the other really interesting thing about the app is that the students once they go through this initial process, they can come back to the app and once they revisit, they will have more and more content unlocked. So each time they visit they will have new and additional information that will help them in terms of their career search and in terms of looking at different majors at Arizona state University.

José Cárdenas: It sounds a little bit like abeye test, but what are they looking at? Give us examples of the kinds of pictures they would see.

Sylvia Symonds: Sure. I recently walked through the assessment and some pictures I saw were pictures of a scientist in the lab. I saw pictures of a person in front of children. I saw someone in a boardroom. I saw pictures of a construction site. And so after going through those series of pictures, you start to see some of the same ones, but you have to make that hard choice. Do I identify more with picture A or picture B? So then by going through that process, using some data that we -- A team of staff at ASU have developed, then they are able to identify those three careers that might be of interest to the student. And the other good thing is that if a student doesn't identify with those three, they're thinking, this third one, I don't like that one. I want to explore a different one, the app has the capacity to allow that student to explore some additional careers they might be interested in as well.

José Cárdenas: You just started using this.

Sylvia Symonds: Yes.

José Cárdenas: I have to ask you, you said you went through it yourself. Did it validate your career choice?

Sylvia Symonds: It did validate my career choice in that it allowed me to look at leadership roles. And so that's something that I always had an interest in, in leading teams N. developing my own personal leadership skills. And so I think it told me that I should look at being an instruction -- An industrial manager. But I think I can see where my work currently aligns with some of that work as well.

José Cárdenas: So where are you right now in terms of the implementation of this?

Sylvia Symonds: We are in very much a testing phase, I would say, but we're welcoming users to go online and check it out. Students essentially in grades eight through 12 are our target audience, and we will be looking to launch more fully come January 1st. But now is a great time for students to get on, try it out, and give us feedback.

José Cárdenas: And do you have any sense for ultimately how many people will be involved?

Sylvia Symonds: Well, our initial launch is for 1500 users, and we think this will go statewide. And there are plans to integrate information from other Universities in the state, so the University of Arizona, and NAU, as well as our community college partners. So we really in the long term have plans to utilize this app in a number of ways for our students to really understand their choices and their different pathways to the University.

José Cárdenas: We're almost out of time, but I know there's another important program you're involved in, and that's future sun devil families. What's going on there?

Sylvia Symonds: Future sun devil families, we're in our second full year of programming, and we have had a very successful fall semester working with our partner districts to bring this program that targets ninth and tends grade students and their families. The program is operated in English and Spanish and focuses on helping students understand how they can prepare for college at a very early age. In ninth and tends grade. And what they will need to be successful as they enter their junior and senior year and enter that decision phase for college. So the workshops focus on things like financial aid, scholarship, family communications, how to talk about those tough subjects, including I want to live in a residence hall, I want to be this particular major, and how to have some of those tougher conversations with your family.

José Cárdenas: Sylvia Symonds, ASU vice-president for educational outreach and student services. Thanks for joining us this evening.

Sylvia Symonds: Thank you for having me.

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Sylvia Symonds:Assistant Vice President, Educational Outreach at Arizona State University;

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