Across the country, graduating seniors are on the brink of being booted from the comfy college cocoons they’ve inhabited for the past four (or more) years. As they don cap and gown—and ponder life without a student ID card—some soul-searching questions may come to mind: “How will I eat?” “Who will pay for cable TV?” “Where are the jobs?”
At Santa Clara University many of the doubts about transitioning from student to self-sufficient adult are aired and addressed in a program called Life After SCU.
Coordinated by the University’s Alumni Association, the course targets June graduates and involves a series of sessions offering helpful tips on everything from barbecuing to budgeting.
Held on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from April through May, the sessions are usually conducted by SCU alums. Most of the classes are free, although a few carry a $5 fee, and seniors may attend any or all of them.
“I’d say the most popular session is our Wine Education one,” said Kristina Alvarez, assistant director of chapters and student outreach in the alumni office. “We’ve had 125 students attend, and this year, we’re looking for 200 participants.” At this session, which is the final one in the series, students learn tips and techniques for tasting wine and go home with a Class of 2012 wine glass.
Another highlight of the course is the annual Career Connect event, where SCU alumni meet with students and give them a chance to practice their networking skills. “It’s a very friendly environment and a great way for seniors to meet former students who are out there working,” said Alvarez. What’s more, she noted, “The alumni really enjoy coming back to campus; they’re more than willing to help out.”
Having former Broncos lead the Life After SCU sessions keeps them involved in their alma mater, according to Alvarez. “They’ve been there, done that. They want to give back to the University and they can relate very well to the current students.”
Session topics this year include “City Living,” with hints on how to find an apartment in a big city; “Barbecue Basics,” in which an alum and his dad share the secrets of grilling delicious food; “Traveling Abroad,” with four alums offering advice on maximizing time abroad; and “Personal Finance,” with tips on money managing by an SCU professor who is also an alum. Other sessions cover such topics as personal relationships and job searching.
SCU’s after-college course began in 2004 and has been running ever since. According to Alvarez, most of the sessions are repeated each year, but a few are replaced to keep up with emerging trends. This year, for example, a new session called “How to Tap into Your Bronco Network” focuses heavily on the use of social media to make career connections.
Easy access to such handy and practical advice is one reason why the Alumni Association’s course is so popular with graduating seniors. And for these fledgling grown-ups poised for flight, another reason just might be the free food and beverages at every session.