How to Engage Young Alumni Before They Even Leave Campus

Each spring, a new class of college graduates enters the working world or begins the next phase of their higher education journey. Regardless of where they go after graduation, their environment changes and they start the next chapter of their lives.

Universities and young alumni want to stay engaged with each other, but they often have a difficult time with it. Many young alumni find it difficult to connect with their school after graduation because they can’t yet donate or they’re too far away from their university to visit.

So how do you keep young alumni engaged? Here are some tips from current college seniors and young alumni:

Celebrate them with a send-off

Send your seniors off to the next phase of their lives.  Many schools invite their to-be alums to a senior toast during the week of graduation, but for some, that time is full of nerves. Try hosting this celebration after they walk the stage in their graduation gowns and celebrate the completion of school. It’s important for them to sense this community in order to have them return in the future.

This allows them to feel like an alum on campus for the first time.

Plan meet-ups in different cities

Do you have a lot of young alumni in a particular city? Go beyond the standard alumni happy hour session and instead set up an intermural sports team or a tour of their new city. Sports leagues often provide young professionals with great opportunities to meet lasting friends – it’s even better when those new friends share the same college memories.


photo courtesy of Loyola University Chicago

Give them reasons to come back before their five-year reunion

Many young alumni want to visit campus before their five-year reunion. Invite them back for a football or basketball game, a #FlashbackFriday-themed movie night on the quad (show a movie that was popular during their freshman year) or dinner at a popular restaurant.

If you help now, they’ll give later

Young alumni don’t want to get phone calls about donating to their university three months after they graduate. They’re still trying to figure out the next stage of their lives. You’re uniquely qualified to help them with job resources, tips for living in a new city, assistance with preparing for graduate school, etc.  If you help them through their first few years post-college, they’ll be likely to remember that once they’re in a position to give back.


photo courtesy of Loyola University Chicago

Remind them of their alma mater

Send them an alumni t-shirt in the mail or a sticker for their laptop. Maybe a postcard with a picture of your mascot, the new freshman class on campus or the latest game-winning shot. Young alumni love to showcase their schools, and this approach keeps you top of mind.

The transition from college to life-after-college is difficult.  It’s the first time your young alumni aren’t in school. Show them you’re there for them now so they can be there for you later.

What new trends have you seen in alumni engagement? Share them with us in the comments below or let us know on Twitter at @StoriedU!


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