As cohort-based course creators, it's easy to focus on your next cohort -- your next big launch. However, if you aren't engaging your alumni and getting them involved in your programming, you may be missing out on opportunities to make your course more valuable. While students may come for the content, they'll stay for the community, and access to your network of supportive alumni expands your offerings. Enlisting the help of alumni mentors benefits all parties involved -- you as the course creator, the alumni mentors, and your students. Alumni strengthen their leadership skills and give back to the community while learners have deeper access to valued insights and varied perspectives. If you're considering adding a mentorship program to your cohort-based course, here are four ways to leverage alumni mentors.
You’ll notice many courses showcase their alumni and student testimonials. For example, on Ascend’s home page, you'll see their alumni are from reputable companies like Slack, Peloton, and Google. Aligning your course with other notable brands, showcasing where your learners are from, as well as what they've been able to accomplish after taking your course, can set your brand apart and help build your reputation.
With a definitive start and end date, cohort-based courses naturally build support and accountability since all learners progress through the curriculum together. The friendships formed throughout the course can last long after your program ends. Throughout the program, foster a collaborative learning environment by encouraging learners to work together on assignments and engaging in the community forums. Also, consider hosting group discussions, and delegating tasks to coaches, alumni, and peer leaders.
While social media marketing, content marketing, and email marketing are all effective, word-of-mouth referrals are still a powerful way to get the word out about your program. Alumni will refer their peers and colleagues to your course and rave about their transformation. Engaging your alumni after the course is complete will also keep your program top of mind.
Alumni know what it feels like to be in your students’ shoes, so who better to teach or mentor existing students. Alumni can share helpful tips and resources that have worked for them, introduce students to real-world concepts and scenarios based on their personal experience, and perhaps even share their professional network. Get your alumni involved by asking them to teach classes, host office hours, specialty workshops, or networking events.
Overall, leveraging alumni mentors makes your course offering more value and can compound student results. When we asked the top cohort-based course creators how important alumni mentors were to their programs, 60% of the respondents included alumni mentors in their programming. Learn more about the best tools for building cohort-based courses and get access to the full report with our findings.
Danielle Desir is an author, freelance writer and the host of The Thought Card, an affordable-travel and personal finance podcast. (danielledesir.com) Follow on Twitter: @thethoughtcard