You did it! You finished college, graduated, and got that diploma. Now, you’re off into the real world–a career or two, maybe a new city, but what about those best 4 (more or less) years of your life, hm? The transition from college to the real world can be super jarring, but it can also be heartbreaking for people who love their alma mater and want to stay involved in some way. 

Here are six tips for staying involved with your alma mater post-graduation—whether you’re still nearby, a world away, or somewhere in between. 

Actually Read Their Emails & Magazines

Colleges want to engage their alumni—they’re going to throw a lot of information at you, especially right after you graduate. They know young alumni are where the key engagement is at–if they get you then, they’ll have you for life. Therefore, they’ll make sure you’re signed up for all the newsletters, info dumps, magazines and more. If you want to stay involved and up to date, actually read these communications! At least half of them will be asking for your money in some way, but how else will you know what’s going in, especially if you’re not walking around campus each day and seeing the construction yourself?

I really enjoy checking in occasionally on the student-run newspaper of my alma mater. It’s fun to see how the same issues are being talked about again and again. It gives me context for a lot of the conversations my more-involved or local friends are having. 

Bonus: the alumni magazines sometimes have great coupons for alumni-run businesses. My last edition of an alumni magazine included a coupon code for a free breakfast for two at a super cute B&B. 

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Once you’re aware of what is happening on campus–whether it’s renaming, closing of particular libraries, changes in policies, tuition hikes, etc–you can do something about it! As you may have heard, colleges like money. You want influence in higher ed? You can literally buy it. Of course, as a young alumni, you’re probably not in a financial place to donate a million to rename a building, but no judgement if you are!

As a young alumni though, you can tailor your donations to particular aspects of the school that are important to you–libraries, your residential college or major, financial aid, etc. There, it can make a difference in the lives of current students and build a better pool of future alumni. 

Plus, a consistent donating schedule–even if it’s $20 a year–keeps the school from calling you all the time. Trust me, I worked in development as an undergraduate. 

Volunteer for Alumni Interviews

One of my favorite parts about being an alumni is getting to conduct alumni interviews where I meet high school seniors in my area (DC) and talk to them about why they want to go to my alma mater, assess their interests, and answer questions they might have. 

These interviews are used in the admissions process–but they are not the end all be all for your application. Rather, I use these as natural conversations. It is a chance to talk about the student and their interests, why this school, assess whether they would be a good fit for it for a variety of reasons, and give them my insight into the university and answer questions. It’s not only a good chance for me to stay abreast of what the teens are up to, but it also reassures the students in the highly stressful application process that there are real human beings involved in some way. 

Get Season Tickets

It’s a lot easier to stay involved when you’re around. I know it’s not possible for everyone, but if it is–consider getting season tickets to a particular sport, the theatre on campus, or something similar. Having a consistent reason to be around other alumni and current students, seeing the spaces your donations are paying to keep nice, and just enjoying the skills of current students, it’s all nice.

Run for Alumni Councils & Boards

It’s easy to talk the talk, but will you walk the walk? If you’re passionate about your alma mater and want to really make an impact, consider running for alumni boards, councils, the school’s board of management or elders, something like that. Every school is a bit different. What they are all 100% looking for alumni to get involved in decision making. Sometimes this is a volunteer-based situation, sometimes you have to run for a position. 

If you are committed enough to running for an alumni position, do it. You will never know until you try. Young alumni are the ones who have the most recent experiences to offer insight from. You can also often find current students, much older alumnus, or social organizations that will support your run. 

Keep in Touch With Your Clubs & Teams

If you went to a huge university, or if you don’t feel compelled to care that much about the school as a whole, you may still feel warmly towards particular clubs or teams you were a part of. You can stay involved—donate to them, go to their events, support their current students, offer job opportunities to those involved. I was amazed during my undergrad years at the alumni support for some groups–from squash teams to the theatre group to the homelessness action project, which I helped lead, which routinely received thousands of dollars in donations from random alumni who saw our op-ed in the daily news and remembered the good work we were doing. 

Reach out to current leaders or coaches, write cards or send tasty snacks to the current students, and be both a pillar of advice and wisdom and a supporter in other ways!

Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member