Alumni Associations aren’t Just for Alums
written by: Lisa Phelps for Student Choice
When I was in college I never thought twice about the Alumni Association. After all, it’s called the Alumni Association and I wasn’t one. But the truth is, while you may not be an actual member, it’s a group that can help you out in lots of ways – both before you arrive on campus and while you’re enrolled as a student.
No matter what school you’ll be attending in the fall, chances are there’s an active alumni association that can benefit you while you’re in school.
Use Them as a Resource
Some alumni groups are very active in the recruiting process, interviewing prospective students and sharing their personal on-campus experiences. Other alumni chapters host incoming freshmen and their families from the local area at informal get-togethers. This is a great way to get to know other students from your hometown, which can come in handy for carpooling to and from school or sharing memories from home. These gatherings are a great way to learn more about a college in a relaxed atmosphere.
Apply for Scholarships
Before you arrive on campus, do a little research to find out what scholarships are offered by the alumni association. Unlike most government loans, these scholarships are generally awarded based on academic performance rather than need. Check out your school’s website for more information.
Make Valuable Connections
Where can you find alums on campus? Chances are you’ll see them during freshman orientation events and at any number of philanthropic activities. Most work tirelessly to raise money for the school and helping out with their efforts will help you feel like you’re a part of your school’s culture and campus-life.
When you get to school, be sure to visit the Alumni Center where you can get a jump-start on job-hunting by contacting alumni around the country. Their offices usually keep lists of alumni, detailing where they live and what they do. Alumni can also help you find internships or part-time jobs during school or after graduation.
At some colleges, alumni groups sponsor work/study programs for those who demonstrate financial need through their FAFSA application. Depending on what help they need, you may get the opportunity to help plan alumni events where you can make valuable connections with those who share common career goals.
Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late!
At their core, alumni groups are fun. They’re great at generating and inspiring school spirit and camaraderie and their enthusiasm is contagious. Please don’t wait until you graduate to check out all they have to offer. From money for college, to a warm welcome, to the power of networking, school alums can help you throughout your college years. The more involved you become, the richer your college experience will be.