Alumni are a vital part of any university community. Although they may no longer be roaming around the campus as they used to when they were students, they are still valued stakeholders of the institution. They provide a sense of continuity and tradition that connects current students with those who came before them. But universities also care about their alumni for more tangible reasons. Here are just a few of the ways that alumni impact their alma maters:
One of the most obvious reasons that universities care about their alumni is that they can be a source of financial support. Alumni donations can fund scholarships, research initiatives, infrastructure improvements, and even entire new libraries. We’ve all heard the stories of some extremely wealthy alumni donating hundreds of millions to their top league university (and it seems to help their kids secure a spot there as well).
Alumni often go on to successful careers in a variety of fields. These individuals can provide valuable networking opportunities for current students and recent graduates, as well as mentorship and career guidance. We all know how important it is to know the right people, and having a strong, connected network of people can give your career a great head start. After all, employment rates after graduation remain one of the key ingredients towards a high ranking.
Alumni who achieve notable success can also reflect positively on their institutions. Universities often boast the accomplishments of their most successful alumni as a way to boost their own reputation and attract new students. Famous alumni are possibly one of the greatest branding tools for your university.
Many universities have been around for centuries, and they care about their alumni simply because they represent a living legacy of the institution. Alumni are a reminder of the impact that the university has had on individuals and communities over time. Alumni help universities stay true to their core values but also be open-minded about a constantly changing world.
Although universities typically get thousands of new alumni every year, it’s important to remember that usually, only a small percentage of graduated students will really offer value to the university in the long term. In fact, in the first ten years after graduation, most students rarely have any contact with their institution. It’s usually only after they have developed their careers to a certain stage that they can start offering their university value (e.g. your network, net worth, and public perception all tend to grow with time). It’s therefore a top priority for universities to stay in touch throughout those first ten years, as alumni who still feel very connected to their institution will likely offer a great ROI in the long run.