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The keys to an integrated alumni community

In the educational field, alumni represent an institution's most valuable reference letter. They are evidence of the excellence of its academic program, its shared values and principles, the extracurricular development opportunities it offers, and the tangible projection of what we aspire for our children or for ourselves when joining a student body. Without considering economic factors, when choosing a school for our children, a university for higher education, or short programs for professional development, knowing the institution's graduates, their relevance in the industry, and their impact on the community is invaluable.

Graduate collaboration

However, a common challenge faced by institutions is maintaining an organized and complete database of graduates, which is an essential tool for any initiative seeking to connect with this group.

To design an action plan consistent with the strategies used to engage alumni and highlight the relevance of keeping them involved, let's first reflect on a reality: graduates have been students for at least one or two years before graduating. Why wait for them to graduate and leave, increasing the difficulty and cost of getting their updated contact information? What actions can we take while they are still our students?

Below are some specific steps that can enhance this process:

1. Build a relationship with the alumni association

Creating awareness about the existence, objectives, and benefits of belonging to an organization that brings together graduates is essential. It is of great strategic value, for example, to organize special events, which can be low-cost, that encourage networking between students and graduates. There are many effective opportunities, from informal gatherings such as a pizza tasting during a break to more formal events such as a presentation with graduates whose companies may offer internship programs.

2. Support the graduating class

Connecting with the graduating class through their student council is vitally important. Offering support in end-of-year activities, whether as volunteers, promoting their events, or actively participating in them, helps establish lasting bonds. Likewise, alumni can become mentors for juniors and seniors, sharing their experiences in careers or universities of interest.

3. Register seniors in the alumni database

Establishing, from the beginning of the school year, a structured procedure to collect data from graduating students is essential. Encouraging directors and homeroom teachers to participate as promoters that motivate students to register facilitates obtaining all records with personal data, emails, social networks, career plans, and interests. It is equally valuable to designate two or three student ambassadors or representatives during their senior year who will serve as a liaison between their classmates and the school.

4. Strengthen and maintain the bond

Alumni's natural bond with their alma mater must and can be strengthened over the years. Maintaining connections according to each group's interests is essential. To do this, it is convenient, for example, to invite those interested in sports activities to start a tournament, give special recognition to those who participate in artistic groups, or allow technology experts to give talks to STEM students. All of this, coordinated with the class representatives or ambassadors, entails due promotion in the institution's traditional media and social networks, with subsequent expressions of gratitude. This allows an opportunity to highlight the skills and professional accomplishments of the alumni and motivate their peers to get involved.

In conclusion, it is essential to know your alumni from their time at the institution as students. Knowing how to reach them and understand their interests allows us to add value to their experience with their school even after they leave the classroom. This initial step is crucial to building a lasting relationship with our graduates, keeping them connected and interested in their alma mater.

Vielka Morales de Aquino

Institutional Advancement Consultant

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