The most important goal of every Higher Education institution is to prepare its students for a fulfilling career and productive life, employability being the mission of most educational pursuits. Once the students depart from the institution, failure to track, engage and nurture a relationship with the alumni is a mammoth lost opportunity for the institution.
Alumni are a pride to the institution because of their possible successes and contributions in the real world. Isn’t it important then to leverage their valuable worldly lessons and use it as a yardstick to measure the institution’s effectiveness? In today’s world that offers an assortment of available technologies, it is easily possible for any institution to make an earnest attempt to reach out and engage former students.
Alumni engagement for a college or university, requires thoughtful planning, sustained outreach and building a reciprocal relationship. Alumni can easily become the fulcrum of the well-being of the institution, by being made to feel that they are trusted insiders who can shape the future of current students. There is no doubt today that colleges and universities are scrambling for resources and in that context, what’s a more valuable resource than their alumni to help face some of the institution’s challenges.
The college or university should, of course, make the first move and must take the lead in building a culture of alumni engagement. The institution should be clear about channelling the energies of alumni in areas that would be mutually beneficial and where alumni assistance would make the biggest difference to current students.
The following can easily fit into the scope of engagement opportunities offered by universities to their alumni today:
- Opportunities for alumni to keep in touch with their peer groups through events, virtual communities, share memories through online channels, job boards etc.
- Continuing education programs for working adults, especially with wide availability of online, hybrid, part-time and executive programs
- Networking for their own career progression
- Alumni can actively participate in the admission process of their university, both to refer new students and interview prospective students
- Career counselling for current students, mentor them toward their career goals, offer internships through alumni corporate network
- Stay connected to their subject or field of interest and with teaching staff involved in such programs
- Staying up to date on university happenings with a stream of information such as alumni journals, newsletters, social media announcements, etc.
- Advocacy and lobbying on behalf of the institution
- Last but not the least, contribution to college fundraising efforts.
If the institution successfully strategises and comes up with a plan for creating an environment for the alumni to meaningfully participate in the institution’s activities, achieving the goals stated above will not be difficult in today’s technology environment.
A college-branded mobile app for alumni could be an easy way to get the alumni to download and participate. Alumni, in their busy world, will feel empowered and easily connected through a mobile app. The app should not of course, be the only way for the alumni to connect with the college, but also for alumni to connect with their peers effortlessly, through communities and forums on the mobile app. The institution should be able to plan and execute alumni events, be able to organise, invite, register etc., with fundraising as one of the main objectives. A job board is an important engagement feature for alumni to post and find jobs. Mentoring current students is an important role for alumni and this can be accomplished through the chosen software, besides being able to offer internships and jobs to current students.
Alumni relationships very often goes untapped resulting in missed opportunities. Needless to say, that there is increasing competition for alumni and donor contributions, with state funding and giving levels on a constant decline. For the alumni engagement mission to be successful, the directive for alumni engagement strategy should of course come from the top in order to effectively permeate through the whole institution.
Engage2Serve is a global provider of Higher Education student lifecycle solutions, enabling institutions build meaningful, personalised relationships with students, via digital empowerment and best practices that enhances recruitment, student success and advancement. e2s Connect from Engage2Serve is designed as a mobile-first, modern alumni engagement product meant to address today’s institutional challenges of connecting with their alumni.