Pathways and Achievement grant

7th Year Services: Schools

7th year services are vital to the success of GEAR UP students and should be started the moment a student enters the programs. While not all of these ideas may be possible or the right fit for your school, below is a list of ideas for building a successful and sustainable 7th Year program at your school.

  • Provide Info and Resources
    • Conduct a workshop, set aside class time, and/or have dedicated counseling time to cover important topics such as;
  • Build Relationships
    • Have a senior night where students can meet with alumni, from the college they will attend if possible, and ask them questions. Invite representative from the schools to attend.
    • Host a summer send off picnic or BBQ
    • Plan first-month-of-school visits to campuses where multiple students are enrolled. Host a dinner or other event at which your alumni can reconnect and share their experiences. (Bonus ideas: drop off care packages and collect college addresses.) As your cadre of college students grows, develop a program to have on-campus “buddies,” pairing a first-year student with sophomores, juniors, or seniors who graduated from your high school.
  • Maintain Communication
    • Conduct a Senior Exit Survey to determine what plans your seniors have for life after high school. Also, use this as an opportunity to collect contact information.
    • Use a service such as Signal Vine to send reminders about actions to take after high school.
    • Create a “class of 20XX” group on Facebook in which students can engage their friends and you can offer encouragement, tips, and reminders.
    • Send monthly post cards containing study skill tips & tricks or pertinent reminders and an encouraging note from high school students and/or staff.
    • Assign a counselor or volunteer mentor (based at the high school) to all first year college students. This person is responsible for touching base with the student at regular intervals, potentially with a task-oriented purpose.
    • Extend existing mentoring programs into the first year of college.
    • Develop a “Friends of XX School” program in communities where several of your students attend college. Assign these adult “friends” to your alumni and task them with being someone the student can turn to when in need of assistance, support, or advice
  • Involve Alumni
    • When on campus visits, invite alumni to share a meal with middle/high school students. Gather a group of 3-5 and ask them to host a panel discussion about life as a college student.
    • Invite alumni to return to the middle/high school during their fall/winter/spring breaks. They can offer informational sessions in the college center, sit on a panel about college life, or visit a class to talk about their experiences.
    • Host a Holiday Party for recent alumni at the start of winter break. Include a celebration of success after the students’ first finals. Invite alumni from 5- 10 years out to talk about their current lives/careers. Use this as an opportunity to build connections based on career interests.
    • Organize a Homecoming Tailgate specifically for recent alumni, especially those who are attending college. Celebrate community and provide a forum for alumni to talk about their experiences – include talking about challenges and possible solutions.
    • Send Care Packages, curated and packed by current students, parent organizations or the alumni association, to college freshmen. Include something to remind them of home, something to help them with their studies, a fun treat they can share, and an encouraging note.
  • Engage Parents
    • Develop a parents’ group that brings together parents of seniors and first-year college students; encourage an agenda that provides support for both.
    • Send Parent Newsletters with information about how to help support students while they are away.
    • Host parent workshops at key points in a student’s transition to college to help parents deal with the changes in their children – first weeks away, coming home for break, etc.




7th Year Services: Parents and Students

While having a strong GEAR UP program is important, the most vital support of a new college student will come from his or her family. Many students and parents don't know what they can do to more effectively navigate the transition from high school to life after high school. Ideally, preparation for post secondary education should begin well in advance of the actual occurrence. Below is a check list of some basic actions parents and students can take to be better prepared for the transition:

7th Grade

  1. Meet with your GEAR UP Liaison.

8th Grade

  1. Meet with your GEAR UP Liaison.


  1. Meet with your GEAR UP Liaison.


  1. Meet with your GEAR UP Liaison.


  1. Meet with your GEAR UP Liaison.


  1. Meet with your GEAR UP Liaison.

College Freshman


  1. Visit the college together.
  2. Attend as many workshops at the high school as possible.
  3. Reach out to resources at the college.
  4. Talk together about budgeting and money management.



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Gaining Early Awareness & Readiness for Undergraduate Programs • Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education
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