You're very smart to be considering snow safety and educating yourself about avalanches. You're going to be spending the season (doesn't that sound great?!?) right in the heart of "avalanche central". The Alta area has lots of avalanches, but it also has some of the most talented and knowledgeable snow safety experts anywhere.
Terry's suggestions are excellent. Both REI and Black Diamond in Salt Lake City host free avalanche awareness lectures. I would *highly* recommend one of the introductory avalanche classes - either the one by The American Avalanche Institute or a class arranged with Exum Mountain Guides of Utah. They consist of an evening lecture followed by a day or two of practical on-snow work in digging pits, evaluating snow structure, route-picking, safe skiing/traveling practices, beacon work, rescue techniques, etc.
Get at least one of the following books, perhaps all three, and study them: "Snow Sense", "The ABC's of Avalanche Safety", and "The Avalanche Handbook".http://www.avalanche.org/%7Elsafc/INFO/Books.HTML
If you only get one, "Snow Sense" is probably the best source for concise, practical information for skiers.
Perhaps most important of all - and you seem to already be on the right path for this - is to adjust your attitude to recognize the potential dangers when you go outside the boundaries. No one else is making things safe for you out there. The choices you (and your partners) make could lead you to some of the most incredible skiing you've ever experienced, and they could also kill you.
You need to get all the gear and practice a lot. Pick your partners carefully, because good ones will keep you out of trouble in the first place and if something does go wrong, you may need them to dig you out.
Alta's gate policy provides access to some fantastic backcountry skiing. Not only that, but right across the street from your lodge is more unbelievable skiing just an hour or so of skinning away. You're going to have a blast.