BecomeAlum Co-founder Christina McIntyre Published in Academic Advising Today

From BecomeAlum, a VT KnowledgeWorks member company:

"Peripatetic Advising: How Socrates, Advising, and Running Shoes Influence Student Success," a paper by BecomeAlum's president and co-founder, Christina M. McIntyre, was published by the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) as its lead article in Academic Advising Today Volume 34, Number 2, June 2011.

Christina McIntyre, BecomeAlum's co-founder, featured in Academic Advising Today

BecomeAlum is an online academic planning tool for college students.  BecomeAlum guides college students through the complexities of meeting degree requirements. From freshman year through graduation, and even graduate school, BecomeAlum keeps students on track to meet their academic goals, helping them "Dream, Plan, Realize." 

BecomeAlum co-founders Jim and Christina McIntyre were featured in the Rackspace Tech Showcase on Handshake 2.0, Christina McIntyre was a guest on Smart College Visit's CampusChat, and Suzanne Shaffer wrote a commentary on the BecomeAlum session of CampusChat in The importance of academic advising.  You can read more about BecomeAlum on Inside VT KnowledgeWorks.


VT KnowledgeWorks encourages and enables creative entrepreneurship world-wide, through innovative curriculum, local business resource centers, and a global network of cooperating regions, all focused on three essential contributors to success: clear understanding of fundamental business principles; access to timely, relevant information; and meaningful personal and corporate relationships. It is a self-sustaining not-for-profit subsidiary of the Virginia Tech Foundation, funded through the continuing confidence and enthusiasm of its clients, sponsors and friends, both corporate and individual.  Its world headquarters is in the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA.

VT KnowledgeWorks sponsors include Attaain, Inc., BB&T, The Branch Group, Handshake 2.0, Harris Office Furniture, Hodges, Jones & Mabry, P.C., Hutchison Law GroupLeClairRyan, New River Valley Intellectual Property Law, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and The Becher Agency (TBA).

BecomeAlum Makes SmartCollegeVisit’s College Expert Tips List

From SmartCollegeVisit:

#CampusChat is an online chat from SmartCollegeVisit that takes place on Wednesday evenings from 9-10 pm, Eastern. With six weeks of chats now under our belt, there has been a steady stream of tips and advice flowing from the fingertips of our expert guests. Here are some of the best tips and how they apply to college admissions and academic success.

Best tip for to manage the influx of e-mailed information from colleges and universities:

Set up an individual email account for all college correspondence and make it professional. Avoid cutesy names such as "[email protected]" Parents and Teens: share the password to the account. It can be very helpful to have more than one set of eyes reviewing the information sent by colleges. (Suzanne Shaffer, Parents Countdown to College Coach)

Best college visit tip:

"Do not visit your first college choice first." (From Eric Yaverbaum, author of Life's Little College Admissions Insights: Top Tips from the Country's Most Acclaimed Guidance Counselors*)

Best SAT test prep tip:

Read every day. The worst thing you can is not read everyday. (Jenn Cohen, founder Word-Nerd, SAT vocab prep program) Also, check out the College Board's recommended reading list for excellent choices in summer (anytime) reading material:

Best tip for the role academic planning plays during college search:

Look up grad rates on then, ask schools how they are trying to improve. Four-year graduation rate is 38%;  six-year rate equals roughly 60% at US college and universities. (Christina McIntyre, co-founder of VT KnowledgeWorks member company BecomeAlum)

Best tip for students enrolled in college (and for those enrolling soon):

Definition of a "koofer" – an old test or study guide (Koofers were once stored in coffers). A koofer makes a terrific study guide. (Michael Rihani, co-founder, Koofers, a resource for academic support, providing materials and planning resources to college students)

And, the best tip for parents, teens, and college admissions offices:

Second to the college visit, peer influence plays the greatest role in deciding where to go to school. (According to parents of newly accepted teens and first participants in #CampusChat: Eileen Paulin and Tom Field)


SmartCollegeVisit and BecomeAlum are member companies of business acceleration center VT KnowledgeWorks.


VT KnowledgeWorks Global Challenge TrophyVT KnowledgeWorks has announced a Global Student Business Concept Challenge, August 29 – September 4, 2010, in Blacksburg and Roanoke, Virginia, USA.  The Challenge celebrates the energy and ingenuity of university students and their important contributions to the future of our global economy.  The name of the winning team, their university name, and their home city will be etched into the base of the VT KnowledgeWorks Global Challenge Trophy as a permanent tribute to their outstanding effort.  The winning team will earn a $25,000 cash prize.


VT KnowledgeWorks sponsors include Attaain, Inc., BB&T, Handshake 2.0, Harris Office Furniture, Hodges, Jones & Mabry, P.C., Hutchison Law GroupLeClairRyan, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and The Becher Agency (TBA).

BecomeAlum and SmartCollegeVisit Collaborate on CampusChat

BecomeAlum and SmartCollegeVisit are VT KnowledgeWorks member companies.

Christina McIntyre, BecomeAlum founder, shared her college advising insights on [SmartCollegeVisit's] #CampusChat, June 2, 2010. The main topic was academic planning and covered everything from deciding on a major to graduation rates to paying for college. It was a fascinating discussion with terrific input from all who participated.

Here are some of the top take-aways from Christina:

  • Look up grad rates on then ask schools how they are trying to improve
  • Coming to an advising meeting with a plan of study really impresses an advisor and starts the dialog
  • It can be very telling during a visit to school w/ low graduation rate to ask a variety of people what they are doing to improve
  • During a visit ask about advising. If you type "Advising" on a college website what comes up? This can be telling.
  • 4-year graduation rate = 38%;  6 yr rate = ~ 60% at US college/universities

It was clear that better academic planning is needed to meet enrollment, graduation, and financial goals for students and institutions. To read the entire exchange, click on the transcript link below.

Transcript for #campuschat 06/02/10

Feel free to contact Christina McIntyre via email at: [email protected], on Twitter @BecomeAlum,  and visit to learn more about how their academic planning tool can impact student success.


BecomeAlum Featured on SmartCollegeVisit

College course planning site BecomeAlum was featured on college visit planning site SmartCollegeVisit.  Both are VT KnowledgeWorks member companies.

Here's an excerpt from BecomeAlum Founder on Planning Your College Career:

Here's Christina McIntyre talking about how an online academic planning tool like BecomeAlum helps students know exactly what's required by their major and when the necessary courses are offered giving the student control over his or her future.

For more information about BecomeAlum, please visit:


VT KnowledgeWorks, a regional business acceleration center that helps companies bring ideas to market, will present the Second Annual Entrepreneurship Summit on April 7-8, 2010 at the Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center in Blacksburg, Virginia. This two-day comprehensive workshop is for prospective company founders, entrepreneurs launching or re-vamping a business, growing companies seeking expansion capital, and individuals interested in investing in early-stage companies.


VT KnowledgeWorks sponsors include Attaain, Inc., BB&T, Handshake 2.0, Harris Office Furniture, Hodges, Jones & Mabry, P.C., Hutchison Law Group, Latimer, Mayberry & Matthews IP Law, LeClairRyan, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) and The Becher Agency (TBA).

BecomeAlum Dreams, Plans, Realizes

From Z. Kelly Queijo:

When Jim McIntyre and Christina McIntyre became partners in life through marriage, they had no idea they would find themselves partners in business. After all, they had established careers: Christina, a fourteen-year vetran of academic advising, serves as associate director of Virginia Tech's University Honors program, while Jim is founder of McIntyre & Associates, an Internet security consulting firm.

BecomeAlum co-founders, Jim McIntyre and Christina McIntyre The couple launched Innovative Academic Solutions in 2006. In June of 2009, they released BecomeAlum, an online academic planning tool for college students.  BecomeAlum guides college students through the complexities of meeting degree requirements.  From freshman year through graduation, and even graduate school, BecomeAlum keeps students on track to meet their academic goals, helping them "Dream, Plan, Reailze" – BecomAlum's tagline.

“We are constantly amazed at how students use the program to create a truly unique and individualized plan that enhances their education,” said Christina. “It's not just a one-plan-fits-all.”

As an Ironman competitor, meeting goals is something close to Christina's heart. “There are certainly a lot of parallels to training and competing in an Ironman and being an entrepreneur. It's a risk. You're in it for the long haul. Endurance, perseverance, judgment calls, measuring performance and making adjustments – it's all an investment in yourself. Sweat equity certainly applies to both.”

The couple discovered there are benefits to working and living together.  According to Christina, “The great thing is that when one of us has an idea…that kind of 'Eureka!' moment, you don't have to wait until the next day to share your idea with someone.” Jim joked that “having two companies resolves the question of what to do with the other 12 hours of a day.”

With the development and launch phases of BecomeAlum behind them, they are building a strong user-base as more students and academic institutions sign up. The next business hurdle is to build a strong marketing and sales force. Jim admits that, when it comes to selling, the learning curve has been steep. “We're looking to involve others who have this expertise. Having an understanding of higher education, academic structure and the people is essential.” Christina concurs, "'Dream, Plan, Realize.  It's not just a pretty phrase for us.”


Virginia Tech students are invited to test drive BecomeAlum.  They can sign up for 2 Weeks Free for VT. This offer is open to Virginia Tech students. Other colleges, universities, or student organizations can contact BecomeAlum for information on how to get BecomeAlum going at their schools.

You're invited to become a fan of on Facebook is a client of Handshake 2.0.  Parent companies - Innovative Academic Solutions, LLC, and Handshake Media, Incorporated - are both members of VT KnowledgeWorks.

This post originally appeared on the Rackspace Tech Showcase on Handshake 2.0. Featured in Blue Ridge Business Journal is an enterprise of Innovative Academic Solutions, a VT KnowledgeWorks member company.  Here's a video of Jim McIntyre of, courtesy of 88owls, also a VT KnowledgeWorks member company. 

BecomeAlum was featured in the The Blue Ridge Business Journal, 5/18/08, in article by Z. Kelly Queijo:

Recent tuition hikes at some Virginia colleges and at schools nationwide have many parents hoping their college-bound kids will keep on schedule and graduate within the four years typically required to earn a bachelor’s degree. However, it’s not always quite as easy as one might think. Four-year graduation rates at Virginia’s 15 public universities vary greatly by school and range anywhere from 12 to 83 percent according to a report published in 2007 by the State Council of Higher Education (SCHEV). Clearly, there are challenges when it comes to graduating in just four years.

So, what does it take to become an alum in four years? “A really good academic planning tool can help,” says Christina McIntyre, seasoned academic advisor at Virginia Tech, now associate director of the University Honors program, and founder of BecomeAlum, a Web-based application designed to help students work their way through their school’s course and degree requirements by major.

“As an advisor, I found myself walking the student through the complete exercise of making a plan of study. While this was helpful I discovered that this was ‘my’ plan for them. Each semester when the plan needed to be adjusted the student asked me for the plan and direction as to how to fix it. Shifting to a model where the student created the plan and then I provided them feedback led the student to take ownership and control of their educational progress.”

Armed with this new insight she teamed up with her husband, software developer and entrepreneur James McIntyre, and together they created BecomeAlum. The McIntyres found that while a college or university may do a great job of making the necessary resources available required to plan a college career, such as the course catalog, online registration systems, and degree audits, a tool that combines all of this (and more) into a single application available to the student, the advisor, and even parents did not exist.

With BecomeAlum, students can view all of the course requirements and prerequisites by year and monitor where they are in the process. “You don’t want a student to plan out one semester at a time,” emphasizes Christina McIntyre “You want them to plan from their first year through to graduation. BecomeAlum is a living document. It’s a plan that will continue to evolve… if a student lives from one semester to the next, that’s when you see someone get into a situation in their senior year that they’ve missed that Fall course offered only in odd-numbered years.”

Depending on when and how often a course is offered, dropping a course one semester could end up adding an entire year to the student’s graduation timeline as well as adding to the total cost. Now more than ever, budget cuts are impacting when courses are offered, and the challenge to keep up with course changes is critical.

BecomeAlum allows the student to track prerequisite sequences and semester course offerings. Alerts are set to notify students when courses are planned out of sequence or if a student is missing pre- or co-requisites. Students can also set mid- and long-term goals, upload head-shots, and use the My Blog feature to keep notes about why specific choices were made along the way. They also enjoy the luxury of being able to explore the “what-ifs” should they decide to change majors, add another major or a minor, or enroll in a co-op or internship program.

Advisors have read-access to the student’s goals, photo and plan, as well as the ability to post comments to the student’s record. Since BecomeAlum is Web-based, it’s easy for a student and advisor to discuss the plan via phone while each views the student record from their respective computers.

Laurie Bianchi, M.S., undergraduate coordinator in Virginia Tech’s Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise department, considers BecomeAlum “an essential tool” when working with college students. “It is extremely helpful for curriculums that enforce prerequisites and/or have specific semester offerings of classes because the student can see immediately that a planned class can or cannot be taken in a given semester. It also allows the academic advisor to access the student’s plan of study at any time and provide electronic feedback.” Advisors can review the plan and make comments but only the student can alter the plan.

With permission granted by the student, parents can also have to access their son’s or daughter’s plan via the Web. Due to FERPA regulations, the student has the freedom to allow or prevent access by parents.

The McIntyres began designing BecomeAlum in 2006, followed by two years of beta testing by students and academic advisors. BecomeAlum became available for purchase within the past year. Individual departments or entire colleges or universities are the target audience. Pricing is structured so that purchase is done in blocks based on the number of “seats” or students who will use the system. Roughly 700 students are currently using BecomeAlum.

The application functions across any operating system platform (PC, Mac, Linux). Students and advisors have access 24/7. The system is easy to use and does not require software or technical support personnel.

As the number of students using BecomeAlum increases, college administrators will be able to collect enough data to forecast specific course demands. Understanding the trends is vital when it comes to planning course selections.

For more information visit