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3 Reasons to Join Your Alumni Association

career planning
campus life
By Selene Angier
Published on April 13, 2021

What is an alumni network and what are the benefits of joining your university’s alumni association? Let’s take a look.

A female international student stands with a laptop and speaks to an alum at an alumni network event at her US university

Graduating from your US university goes beyond the university name at the top of your transcript or getting together for a tailgating event. Joining your alumni network and being active with fellow graduates is about connection — a connection that lasts long after you toss your graduation cap in the air and move out of the dorms. 

Once you graduate from university, you and your classmates will move away, perhaps even across the globe. You will get jobs, maybe even get married and have kids. Your life will change and move forward, but your college days will always have the feel of a home base. Being active in your alumni network and maintaining that connection to campus means that you speak a common language and always will be part of your university family. 

What Is an Alumni Network?

The term “alumni network” is both official and unofficial. When you speak generally of an alumni network, it applies to anyone who has attended or graduated from a given university. When you join your college’s alumni association, you are officially recognized as an alum and you may get access to certain perks. 

You will see several related terms on the internet, so let’s first look at some definitions:

  • Alumnus: a male graduate (plural is alumni)

  • Alumna: a female graduate (plural is alumnae)

  • Alumni: the gender-inclusive plural form

You may also hear the common shorthand version — “alum.” 

What Are the Advantages of Being Active in Your Alumni Network?

Once you graduate from a university, you are always a part of its alumni network. If you want to support scholarship programs, attend alumni-only events, or get access to special discounts, you may need to officially join your alumni association, which usually involves a simple application and annual fee. Contributions go toward hiring staff, hosting events, and offering scholarships.

There are three main reasons you will want to be active in your alumni network:

1. Professional Networking and Career Opportunities 

From CEOs to entry-level coordinators, everyone who graduated from college is an alum. Looking for a job or mentor? Want to find a good financial advisor? It might be a fellow alum. With the mention of a funny campus anecdote or a popular professor, a near stranger may become your introduction to a hiring manager or trusted retirement. 

A few examples of how you can connect with your fellow graduates:

  • Alumni association message board

  • LinkedIn and, more specifically, the Alumni Tool, which allows you to filter and search by university and see where LinkedIn members work, what industries they are connected to, etc.

  • Reddit groups, like /olemiss

  • Facebook groups, like the KU alumni page

  • Events and social mixers organized on sites like Eventbrite and MeetUp

  • Homecoming, graduation, and other on-campus events

Most universities offer career services to alumni, too. Some examples are:

  • Resume and interview prep courses

  • Mentoring programs

  • Venture capital and start-up workshops and grants

  • Workplace alumni days

  • Job posting boards with exclusive listings

  • Shadow opportunities and informational interviews

  • Continuing education courses on Lynda or edX

2. Community and Events

Keeping in touch with your fellow alumni includes connections beyond the workplace, too. If you stay connected online, you will be invited to alumni-only happy hours in your city, networking lunches, volunteering events, and fundraisers for local charities. You may meet your next business colleague, romantic partner, or lifelong friend at an alumni event. 

3. Exclusive Discounts and Perks

Joining your alumni association can also mean saving a few dollars or getting access to exclusive perks. Alumni groups encourage association sign-ups by offering a range of member-only offerings, products, and services like:

  • financial and investment services

  • lifelong learning courses

  • fee-free bank accounts

  • low-rate credit cards

  • travel and entertainment discounts

  • life insurance

  • free .edu email

  • shopping sites

Here are some notable perks and exclusive events for alumni at Shorelight universities:

  • Sustaining alumni members at Auburn University can book vacations with the War Eagle Travelers Club and get priority game day parking

  • UIC graduates get access to health care, fitness, libraries, and other campus facilities and resources well after graduation

  • “Once a Zag, always a Zag” at Gonzaga, where alumni family members can apply for legacy scholarship opportunities ($2.9 million and counting!)

  • Hotel, car rental, and many other travel and shopping discounts are available via the American University alumni association

  • “Geaux Tigers!” is heard around the world at LSU’s global alumni networking events

  • Active Rebel alums at Ole Miss get discounts to Varsity Tutors, movie tickets, Dell laptops, and more

Notable Alumni at Shorelight Partner Universities

Shorelight partners with top-ranking universities, which means accessing strong alumni networks full of Nobel Prize winners, famous celebrities, Fortune 500 CEOs, award-winning artists, and world leaders. Here are a few highlights of notable alumni:

Adelphi University

  • Chris Armas (soccer player)

  • Leona Marlin-Romeo (former Prime Minister, Saint Maarten)

  • Hamdi Ulukaya (CEO, Chobani)

American University

  • Muriel Bowser (mayor of Washington, DC)

  • Goldie Hawn (actor)

  • Judge Judy (TV personality)

Auburn University

  • Charles Barkley (NBA player)

  • Tim Cook (CEO, Apple)

  • Octavia Spencer (actor)

Cleveland State University

  • Koo Bon-moo (executive, LG Group)

  • Norris Cole (NBA player)

Gonzaga University

  • Bing Crosby (singer)

  • Rui Hachimura (NBA player)

Florida International University

  • Carlos Arroyo (NBA player, reggaeton singer)

  • Jonnu Smith (NFL player)

  • Francis Xavier Suarez (mayor of Miami)

Louisiana State University

  • Alex Bregman (MLB player)

  • Don Lemon (CNN news anchor)

  • Shaquille O’Neal (NBA player)

University of Central Florida

  • Diplo (DJ)

  • Tacko Fall (NBA player)

  • Cheryl Hines (actor)

University of Dayton

  • Anthony Grant (basketball coach)

  • Ally Malott (WNBA player)

University of Kansas

  • Wilt Chamberlin (NBA player)

  • Don Johnson (actor)

  • Paul Rudd (actor)

  • Kate Spade (fashion designer)

University of lllinois Chicago

  • Alaa Al Aswany (writer)

  • Jesus Garcia (US representative)

  • Daniel Henney (actor and model)

  • Qasim Rashid (author)

  • Azhar Usman (comedian)

University of Massachusetts Amherst

  • Richard Gere (actor)

  • Fardeen Khan (actor)

  • Hina Rabbani Khar (former Minister of Finance, Pakistan)

  • Stephane Lasme (NBA player)

  • Jack Welch (former CEO, General Electric)

University of Massachusetts Boston

  • Joseph Abboud (fashion designer)

  • Bella Disu (businesswoman)

  • Olekina Ledama (politician, Kenya)

  • Donaldo Macedo (author, linguist)

  • Juana Matias (attorney, politician)

  • Biz Stone (cofounder, Twitter)

University of Mississippi

  • William Faulkner (author)

  • John Grisham (author)

  • Eli Manning (NFL player)

  • Michael Oher (NFL player, inspiration for The Blind Side film)

  • Brittney Reese (Olympic gold medalist)

University of South Carolina

  • Mike Colter (actor)

  • Jasper Johns (artist)

  • A’ja Wilson (WNBA player)

University of the Pacific

  • Jose Hernandez (astronaut)

  • Matt de la Pena (author)

  • Dolores Huerta (labor leader)

  • Ally Iskandar (TV personality)

  • Sharon Ito (journalist)

  • Guei-Min Lee (politican)

  • Michael Olowokandi (NBA player)

University of Utah

  • Andrew Bogut (NBA player)

  • Lee Isaac Chung (director)

  • Cha Joo-young (actor)

  • J. Willard Marriott (hotel entrepreneur)

  • Wataru Misaka (NBA player)

  • Emre Uslu (journalist)

Getting Involved with Your Alumni Network

After you graduate, there will be many reasons to join your alumni network, such as giving back at an organized volunteering event or supporting a merit scholarship fund through association dues. And obviously, getting a response on LinkedIn for an informational interview because you are a fellow alum is a huge plus. But perhaps the most important reason is the sense of belonging, fellowship, and pride. 

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