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Daily 49er

An end in sight: new fair gives freshman light at end of graduating tunnel.

Freshman fair to motivate students to complete 15+ unit semesters for speedy graduation.

The+Freshman+Alumni+event+was+hosted+by+the+university+in+front+of+the+Student+Bookstore+and+was+aimed+at+inciting+freshmen+students+to+think+of+graduation.
The Freshman Alumni event was hosted by the university in front of the Student Bookstore and was aimed at inciting freshmen students to think of graduation.

The Freshman Alumni event was hosted by the university in front of the Student Bookstore and was aimed at inciting freshmen students to think of graduation.

Sabrina Flores | Daily 49er

Sabrina Flores | Daily 49er

The Freshman Alumni event was hosted by the university in front of the Student Bookstore and was aimed at inciting freshmen students to think of graduation.

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Several hundred Cal State Long Beach freshmen lined up in front of the campus bookstore Tuesday and Wednesday to participate in the Almost Alumni Freshman Fair, a new program dedicated to enable budding scholars to graduate in just four years.

“Sometimes people aren’t thinking about graduation until it’s like, ‘boom it’s there’ and in order to really graduate in four years — which is most people’s goal — you’ve got to think about it and plan it,” said Susan Leigh, the associate vice president of enrollment at CSULB.

In order for students to meet that ideal two or four-year graduation goal, undergraduates must complete 15 units per semester. Leigh notes that a 15-unit workload can be a strenuous endeavor for those not yet acclimated to the demands of college courses. Counseling advisor’s oversight play an integral role in situating students agendas in ways that make their rigorous schedules work for them.

“That’s why the advising is so important,” Susan Leigh said. “The advisors are so used to trying to explain to [students]: you don’t wanna take two labs perhaps, or three writing intensives.”

The three-hour event walked students through six locations on campus, all pertinent to helping the freshmen successfully tackle a new semester. Beginning at Brotman Hall, campus newbies visit the Enrollment and Financial Aid offices to double check that students have their paperwork and other affairs in order. While there they were also given the opportunity to enroll in Beach Pledge, a new CSULB program.

Beach Pledge was created in accordance with the California Promise Program, a bill signed by Governor Jerry Brown in September of last year to help support students seeking a timely graduation. While every CSU campus implements the promise differently, CSULB Beach Pledge creates a fast track for students to hightail it to their cap-and-gown with priority registration, so long as they enroll in 15 units per semester and maintain a 3.0 GPA thereafter.

Winding their way up from Brotman Hall to the tents at the speaker’s platform in front of the bookstore, students waited in line to speak with their majors’ academic counselors to check out what the career development center had to offer. The event also offered an opportunity to make connections with fellow 49ers at the Alumni Association. Once completed, the first 250 attendees received a t-shirt with the words “Class of 2021.”

“It [this fair] really is to help and motivate students to realize that they can do this,” Leigh said.

As a last incentive and reminder to help students keep their “eyes on the prize,” students were invited inside the bookstore to take a free studio photo in traditional cap-and-gown garb.

Elisa Patty Naranjo and Lesa Neal of Best Grad Photo, a photography studio for graduating students, lent their services to the campus free of charge. Both ladies met on campus and graduated with their BFA in photography in 2003. They described their time as students as the best years of their life.

“I think it [the photo] puts it in their head that they are actually going to graduate in four years, versus not knowing when,” Naranjo said. “Now they know, ‘2021, that’s my year!’ Whereas before, at least when I remember coming, I knew approximately how long it might take, but I didn’t have a year in my head. It’s very exciting.”

With the flash of camera lights still imprinted in his vision, undeclared freshman Eric Moreno walked away from the shoot and said putting on the robe made him feel like a high school senior again as his graduation was just months ago.

As human resources major Kimberly Andrade waited in the queue for her photo to get taken, she admitted that she was a little nervous to start her first 15-unit-packed semester, but is driven nonetheless.

“I feel like I haven’t really had great amount of time management, but going through the workshop taught me that, ‘OK I’m here for a reason, I got to learn to stay on track and not procrastinate so much,’” Andrade said.

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