A vital, but sometimes overlooked, benefit of attending a reputable college or university is the value of the alumni network. Current students and especially graduating seniors can utilize this resource to get in contact with people in their same career field, with whom they already have a baseline connection. Alumni understand what it’s like to be a new grad on the hunt for a job, and each have unique social and professional connections that can be of great use to students from their alma mater.
It’s pretty clear that the larger the undergrad institution, the larger the alumni network. However, it doesn’t always follow that the larger schools are better in this aspect. Smaller colleges across the country have the opportunity to form more personal connections between alumni and current or graduating students. These schools can stay in contact with a larger percentage of their alumni base because it’s statistically feasible for them to do so!
Just because smaller schools have this potential opportunity, however, does not mean that all of them give their students the option to take advantage of it. One college whose students are certainly reaping the benefits of its alumni network is St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota.
St. Olaf actively engages its alumni beyond just periodically calling to ask them for donations. The school holds events across the country to keep its alumni connected, even long after graduation. This summer, St. Olaf students will be hearing from many alumni in the Twin Cities area talk about their experience at the college in an event called “The Big Discovery Project.” St. Olaf describes this event as perfect for “engaging alumni and students in dialogue, teaching students interview skills, strengthening ties within the Ole community, and assisting with the planning of future alumni programming.”
Current students also hugely benefit from St. Olaf’s alumni connections and the school’s collection of information. On their website, St. Olaf has an entire range of pages dedicated to “Outcomes.” These include employment outcomes, retention and graduation rates, and results from an exit survey given to all graduating seniors at the school.
One immensely important resource for current St. Olaf students is the “First Destination Data on Recent Graduates,” which allows current students to see the top employers of St. Olaf graduates, as well as where the alumni are attending graduate and professional schools. A searchable database of recent alums allows for networking opportunities and the possibility of internships for current students who want to connect with alumni.
For students still attending the school, St. Olaf has the Main Street Initiative to help develop a career path. This program allows students to prepare for life after graduation by identifying their skills and passions, then working through realistic next steps for their life. For more information on this initiative, go here.
Students have a great opportunity, at St. Olaf and many other schools across the country, to leverage the vast possible connects with alumni to further their own careers and other paths to continue on after graduation.