Why Do Alumni Matter?

Why Do Alumni Matter?

Alumni can create tremendous value for the colleges and universities from which they graduate. Successful former students can provide a powerful form of testimonial on behalf of an institution’s brand, offering positive word-of-mouth attention, social media presence, and the type of visibility that juices recruitment and application rates. And this is to say nothing of the financial benefits that come with a reliable donor group and an inbuilt fanbase for your athletics program.

Alumni can create tremendous value for the colleges and universities from which they graduate. Successful former students can provide a powerful form of testimonial on behalf of an institution’s brand, offering positive word-of-mouth attention, social media presence, and the type of visibility that juices recruitment and application rates. And this is to say nothing of the financial benefits that come with a reliable donor group and an inbuilt fanbase for your athletics program.

But the value of a strong alumni association actually goes a lot deeper than that. Alumni can also be a rich source of opportunity for members of the student body. That’s exactly why Academic Influence places so much importance on alumni achievements in our ranking algorithm. We believe the success of a university’s alumni can be a meaningful predictor of the opportunities that await you in a given educational community.

To find out exactly how, you can jump right to our list of the 50 Best Colleges and Universities for 2021. There, you can see exactly how prominent alumni shape the identity of excellent colleges.

Otherwise, read on to find out…

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What Do Alumni Mean to Universities?

Alumni can mean a great deal to a university, forming an ever-growing delegation of ambassadors on behalf of their alma mater. Typically, this delegation offers positive representation across a broad geographical expanse and in countless professional sectors. As a result, universities that send graduates on to great success reap the benefits in the form of both public endorsement and material support.

In fact, the financial benefits of a strong alumni network have even helped to offset some of the financial setbacks colleges are facing in the shadow of the COVID-19 crisis, including declining enrollment and shrinking public funding. Support from alumni can go a long way toward bridging these financial gaps as schools weather the storm. However, there is an extremely wide variance in alumni retention rates from one college to another. While schools at the top of the list like Princeton and Williams College enjoy a greater than 50% rate of donation from graduates, the alumni donor rate is actually less than 10% across the board.

Alumni can mean a great deal to a university, forming an ever-growing delegation of ambassadors on behalf of their alma mater. Typically, this delegation offers positive representation across a broad geographical expanse and in countless professional sectors.”

Moreover, the bulk of charitable donations come from just a small number of wealthy benefactors, as opposed to a diversity of graduates. Donor Search reports that ”Major donors make up the majority of nonprofit fundraising revenue. According to the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, about 90% of charitable contributions come from only 15% of donors.”

There are some perks to being part of an alumni association. Some schools provide their members with discounted event attendance and merchandise, access to travel and retail discounts, and engagement in career placement networks. But Donor Search notes that 93% of alumni associations offer no direct benefits to their members. It is conceivable that schools offering meaningful benefits might see greater return on their investment in the form of strong alumni involvement.

For prospective students, this also suggests that every institution maintains a different level of connection with its alumni. Consider this factor as you weigh the pros and cons of every school on your list. And bear in mind that it’s about a lot more than dollars and cents. An engaged alumni association can bring countless other benefits to an educational community.

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What Do Alumni Mean to Current Students?

A strong alumni network can play a vital role in the student experience from recruitment to graduation and beyond, serving as a point of access to a diverse set of opportunities, including:

  • Mentoring
  • Expertise
  • Internships
  • Employment
  • Global Reach

If you’d like to see how prominent alumni can shape the identity of their respective colleges and universities, you can browse our enormous database of academic influencers.

If you’d like to learn more about the impact that alumni can have on your academic experience, read on…

Alumni Help With Mentoring

Mentorship is an important part of the higher education experience, especially for students undertaking major research projects, pursuing independent study, or making the transition into graduate school. Mentors provide guidance, insight, and feedback as you advance in these undertakings, often drawing from a combination of real-world experience and educational background. While professors are one source for mentorship, an engaged alumni network can open the door to a much wider set of candidates, including those with immediate involvement in the professional sector. This means that you’ll be gaining support and insight from somebody who is fully immersed in the profession you hope to soon enter. In addition to the immediacy and relevance of the knowledge you’ll gain from such an individual, you could be developing an incredibly valuable professional relationship.

Alumni Have Expertise

Alumni aren’t just graduates from your college. They are working professionals, and often, leaders in their respective fields. From business executives and practicing attorneys to public office-holders and performance artists, your school’s alumni association may well be a who’s who of university superstars. And many of them will make it a point to return to the university to share their experience and expertise through guest lectures, workshops, and even by instructing their own specialized courses. The body of knowledge and skill collected in your university’s alumni association could give you a firsthand window into your future career.

Alumni Help With Internships

Speaking of your future career, one of the best ways to get started on this path is to land a relevant internship while still in your undergraduate studies. In fact, some programs will actually require you to earn some portion of credits by amassing this real-world experience. If you’re not sure where to start in your search for a cool internship in your field, consider beginning with your school’s alumni association. They may be able to point you to leaders in your desired field, and even arrange for an introduction. You might be surprised at how many influential people are willing to give you a shot because you share an alma mater.

Alumni Help With Employment

The same alumni association could be a strong inroad into an actual entry-level position in your field. As the saying goes, it’s all about who you know. When you tap into your school’s alumni network, you’ll get the chance to know a whole lot of interesting people with a ton of pull in their respective fields. If you start nurturing those types of connections before graduation, you could make a seamless transition into your first role. And you may even have the added benefit of working alongside somebody who roots for the same football team on Saturdays.

Alumni Have Global Reach

One of the most exciting dimensions of the alumni association is that it exists without borders. One-time students at your university are likely representing their alma mater in leadership roles all over the world. Whether you hope to work with partners overseas or repatriate and build a career in a new country, there’s a good chance somebody from your school’s alumni network has already helped to pave the way. Access your alumni association to find out how your school’s graduate network can become a passport to opportunities all over the world.

Alumni play a critical role in shaping a school’s identity, reputation, and impact on the real world. That’s why alumni figure so prominently into our formula for Influence Ranking. Those schools with the most influential alumni typically offer access to a great network of experts, leaders and even legends in their respective fields. This means that students who join the rosters of such schools can also become part of these thriving and dynamic alumni networks.

But more importantly, it also demonstrates a tradition of excellence—of both attracting the best and brightest, and of sending them into the world with the knowledge, credentials, and connections to succeed at the highest levels. Joining such networks gives you a clear pathway to follow in their footsteps, to stand on the shoulders of giants, and perhaps even to leap from their achievements into an even higher stratosphere.

Find out how alumni contribute directly to the excellence of the top colleges and universities with a look at the 50 Best Colleges and Universities for 2021.

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