6 Reasons to Join Your Alumni Association
The university: it’s sucked up years of your life and all of your dollars. You probably even went into debt to finish your degree. And no sooner do you walk across the stage to get your fake diploma (the real one’s in the mail) than they’re already asking for more from you. They want you to join The Alumni Association.
I imagine the conversation faring something like this: “Why?”
And somewhere in the career center, a lowly counselor winces.
Why, indeed. Sure, it’s expensive. Yes, you’ll get put on an e-mail list. But is your alumni association irrelevant? Probably not, but that’s up to you to decide. What I do know? There’s at least six good reasons to join your alumni association. Here they are:
- You’re looking for a job. Let’s face it: unless you’re in love with the poetic mise-en-scène of academia, you may not have warm fuzzies for your alma mater. Some simply attend college to obtain a degree that will, ideally, lead to their chosen career. And that’s just fine. But networking is king, and utilizing all avenues, connections, and tools at your disposal could position you in a better place to start (or continue) your career. If you didn’t make a habit of cultivating professional connections in college, keeping in touch with your alumni network through your college’s official association might be your best bet. Look for your alumni’s association group on LinkedIn or Facebook.
- You’re not finished learning. Many alumni associations offer graduate preparation seminars, networking events, and refresher courses. And often, these are only available to those who have paid their alumni dues. Special offers, such as coupons for GRE prep, are also common fare.
- You’re an extreme coupon-er. After joining your alumni association, you will be inundated with offers: cheap hotels, low interest lines of credit, 20% off golf course memberships. Stanford’s alumni association boasts its deals publicly. Click, call, or ask around to see if your university’s alumni membership dues will offset enough costs to make the initial investment worthwhile.
- You love your school. Were you class president? Did you try to be friendly to everyone? Have you returned to more than one homecoming? Do you read your school’s Latin motto (mine was Pro Ecclesia, Pro Texana — I particularly like that last part) and become instantly filled with warmth?If you bleed your school’s colors, you might want to have that checked out. But you also might want to join your alumni association. It’s a great way to stay abreast of administrative and structural changes at your school, and to generally be “in the know.” Bonus points for joining and continually donating money if you actually believe in your school’s mission. Alumni associations are often the face of a university’s philanthropic arm, so your enthusiasm and school spirit might enable good things. Money talks. That’s love.
- You’re a serial networker. If you enjoy going to fundraisers, attending large-scale social functions, and being a person of mid- to high society, joining your alumni association is definitely for you. Some schools even have Distinguished Alumni awards! If you can see yourself gladhanding and earnestly exchanging business cards with fellow alumni at your ten year reunion, join. Join quickly. Don’t look back. You were made for stuff like this.
- You value your degree. Little known fact: the best way to help your degree appreciate in value is to throw some money at it and act like you care. An active alumni association helps create a strong university identity, and can help raise the profile of your alma mater. If you plan on being wildly successful, do the rest of us a favor and join up. Even uninvolved alumni share a sense of pride when their college has pumped out achievers. You make the rest of us look good.
Full disclosure: Upon graduating with my bachelors degree, I did not elect to join my university’s alumni association. This is probably because my mother, father, sister, brother-in-law, and a host of my colleagues and friends are already members. It also might be because some altogether minor-yet-lingering philosophical differences preclude me from enthusiastically jumping at the chance to give my university more money (love her dearly though I do). It might also be because they haven’t awarded me with any post-graduation accolades — I’m in the market for an honorary doctorate. I do, however, actively encourage all graduates of my alma mater to join the Alumni Association. And I do read the magazine. It pays to keep up.
Back2College: Joining Your College Alumni Association
StateUniversities.Com: Alumni Associations: Why You Should Join Yours