Reach Advisors (a.k.a. Graduation Gurus)

Start developing connections with students BEFORE they leave rather than trying to bring them back AFTER they are gone.

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Update! March 24th, 2016

Had the opportunity to meet with one of our associate principals who is coordinating our PRIDE time (think advisory, TA, homeroom, etc.). She had some great ideas on how to tweak the scale-ability for a slower implementation if there is a need to take more time to build buy-in with students. Additionally, there has been success in the past with similar activities where only a few students from four-year universities came back to meet with current students, so she sees great potential for a program that reaches out to students who have taken a variety of post-secondary paths (i.e. vocational school, community college, university, etc.). In fact, there are already students each year that contact the school looking for a way to give back.

In the meantime, I'm looking at what a implementation package might look like to help schools put this idea in place, and I really like the idea from my partner, Patrick, to eventually include an online component.

Thanks to those who have been keeping track. Please take a moment to evaluate my idea and share any feedback. Thanks!


Update! March 22nd, 2016

Uploaded my pitch video to YouTube (here's the link: and sent along to my coach. Still continuing to hash out the roll-out of the idea and scale-ability.

Thanks for all the help and guidance from my coach and partner!


Update! March 17, 2016

Great GHO with my coach and communication from other partners, so there are a few updates (graphic and info below). slowly chugging forward in developing this idea. Thanks for the support!

Brief Overview:

Our goal is to create a program that builds relationships with students that inspire them to graduate and pursue post-secondary goals. By staying connected with graduates as “Gurus” for younger students, we will welcome alumni home while providing current students with guidance.

How to get this idea off the ground (in progress):

Year One

  1. Identify an advisor, facilitator, or project manager. This could be a motivated classroom teacher, a student group, or even the guidance office staff.
  2. Identify or establish times for students to visit other classes and/or have the Graduation Gurus visit the school for talks. Some schools have homeroom (T/A, advisory, etc.) that would serve as perfect, pre-scheduled time. The main point, however, is to build this into the school day to ensure that students can attend. Perhaps once a quarter?
  3. Hold a kick-off presentation to find juniors and seniors willing to take part in the program. Don’t be afraid to personally invite a wide range of students. College isn’t just for AP students, so you need to make sure you represent all walks of life in your building.
  4. Meet with your new Graduation Gurus to establish what their plans are and why, what they’ve learned about making the most of their high school experience, and what they’ve learned about the college application / scholarship / military process up to this point.
  5. Arrange for structured visiting events, as well as other gatherings that could draw in students.
  6. (to be continued…)


Update! March 10, 2016

Overview: (What’s this idea about)

(3/9/2016) Our goal is to build a program that brings alumni back to the school as a way to inspire, motivate, and inform current secondary level students to pursue post-secondary education. Through advisory classes and school-hosted events, we would bring alumni into the school who have gone down various avenues after graduation. Their insights, stories, etc., which would be all their own but guided by some “starter-questions/prompts” would be geared toward candidly connecting with current students. At the same time, the events and visits would allow the alumni a reason to visit, and an opportunity to build a rapport with their alma mater to help support them in their post-secondary endeavors.

Potential For Impact: (Why is this an idea that promotes continued growth?)

(3/9/2016) This idea promotes growth by allowing students to hear from peers who are going through the post-secondary experience right now, as opposed to a counselor or teacher providing second-hand information and packaged tips. This would not only be an opportunity to motivate and inform students, but the alumni would build rapport and be provided a purpose that should both motivate and support their efforts.

Value Prop/Pitch: (How would you pitch this to other teachers in your school? Your principal? Etc)

(3/9/2016) One particular selling point is the connection of our school to various post-secondary organizations, which would draw attention to our school among those organizations and the community. As for teachers, this would be something that would allow them to stay connected to former students. As a result, they would get to see how their students have developed, bring back “favorites”, share success stories, and make their own personal connections with the organizations.

How’d I get this idea off the ground?

(3/10/2016) Spoke with principal about how he would suggest moving forward. Suggested another admin to talk to, develop a “catchy name”, and launch ideas.

(3/9/2016) I’m hoping to meet with my principal to discuss how this might be incorporated with our new daily advisories for the 2016-2017 school year. These advisories are referred to as “PRIDE Time”.

Another target audience would be schools who are already using advisory time of some sort or who are partnered with a university, such as University High School in Illinois. The latter would provided a much needed to connection to get started. In fact, schools with ROTC  and military recruiters would also be great to partner with since they employ a similar idea.

How you can get started:


  • Graduates
    • Blogging about the school-appropriate side of post-secondary life
    • Guest speaking during registration and academic awards
  • HS Students
    • Soon-to-be graduates getting tips on dorm supplies, life-hacks, moral support
  • Both
    • Shadowing days where the mentees can visit the mentors on campus
    • Brunches and luncheons that bring the graduates back into the school
    • Summer get-togethers to eat, connect, and reflect
    • Transition gatherings
    • Mentors saying good-bye and possibly offering contact info for on-going connections
    • Invite new mentors to learn from those transitioning out


Materials to get this idea off the ground:


  • Research into data supporting the benefit of such relationships
  • Print and digital publications promoting and explaining the program / process
  • Partnerships with groups who would like to provide “swag” during visits to help with the transition to post-secondary life (school supplies, gear with school logos, dorm accessories, etc.)


Our school recently posted an picture and S/O on Twitter for a former at-risk student who came back to tell his story of how he went on to find success. However, that was to one class, and it was for a student that happened to keep in touch with one teacher. 

What about developing relationships and plans with graduates before they leave? Perhaps a scholarship could be developed for mentoring students, or they could simply document their interactions as volunteer hours. Either way, a school could create relations with soon-to-be graduates and make arrangements for expectations, ideas, and events prior to them leaving. Of course, the first year would be the most time consuming and challenging, but future years would have students who have benefited from the experience and gain interest.

An important aspect of this would also be to not focus solely on students attending major universities. Tap into students going to the community college down the road, the military, and trade schools so that we expose students to all avenues or post-secondary success.

Possible events or connections:

  • Blogging about the school-appropriate side of post-secondary life
  • Shadowing days where the mentees can visit the mentors on campus
  • Brunches and luncheons that bring the graduates back into the school
  • Guest speaking during registration and academic awards
  • Summer get-togethers to eat, connect, and reflect
  • Transition gatherings
    • New graduates getting tips on dorm supplies, life-hacks, moral support
    • Mentors saying good-bye and possibly offering contact info for on-going connections
    • Invite new mentors to learn from those transitioning out

Have a doc or slides that you're collaborating in? Link it here.

Evaluation results

15 evaluations so far

1. Do you love this idea?

Yes! I love this idea! - 100%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Shawna Myers

Hi Clint!  I love this idea and wanted to start trying it in our school.  I am a high school counselor, and before our seniors graduate, we have an individual exit interview with each of them.  One of the questions we added to our interview this year is if they would be willing to mentor students next year, and if they are in  town, come back and talk with kids about graduation and college.  Since it's all new, I'm not sure how we will use them next year, but we will.  But, the part I wanted to share with you is the excitement the kids have when we ask them the question.  They all of the sudden feel very empowered and excited that someone would want to hear from them.  I'm overly surprised as to how many "Yes!" answers we have received.  Just thought I would share.    :)

Photo of Clint Heitz

Shawna Myers Thank you, so much, for sharing that! It warms my heart to know that this idea has had an impact. I would love to hear more as you continue your journey with the idea. Your experience could add a ton of insight in growing the idea. 

I'm also thrilled to hear about your student response. Many of the skeptical comments I get regard students not wanting to come back, so I especially love hearing that there is such enthusiasm. 

Good luck! I can't wait to hear more about your success!

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