By University of Phoenix
Joining an alumni association offers a wide variety of benefits for both recent and seasoned graduates. These associations provide a platform for alumni to connect with one another, stay engaged with their school’s community, access exclusive resources and share institutional pride for their alma mater.
Even if you don’t live near your college or university, connecting with your school’s alumni association still provides several powerful benefits. You’ll be able to meet new people, learn new skills, participate in school fundraising and volunteer events, access exclusive discounts and discover resources that are useful during and after the post-grad transition.
Alumni associations also potentially offer a range of career enhancement opportunities. You can access a network to connect with other graduates, personally and professionally, and build or expand your contact list after you leave campus.
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Alumni associations find creative ways to engage graduates, no matter where they live or when they graduated. Often, this means hosting events, including guest lectures and game-day tailgating. These events create opportunities for college or university graduates to gather and spend time enjoying an organized activity.
Alumni associations are also tasked with planning more formal events, including reunions. Members have the opportunity to join their school’s reunion committee. These committees plan official reunion events, coordinate dates and times, send invitations and handle other event-related responsibilities.
Some associations offer discounts on a wide variety of items and experiences. For example, a university’s alumni association might offer things like memorabilia, sporting or social event tickets, access to university facilities, admission to university museums or classes in continuing education.
In some cases, joining also offer discounts on non-university products or services, such as car rental, hotels or retail stores, and on insurance, travel or financial services.
As part of post-graduation benefits, many schools provide financial services to alumni association members. These services might include access to university credit unions, which might offer fewer fees and lower loan rates than banks. They also might allow graduates to obtain a car, home or other large purchase without making excessively high interest payments.
Some associations offer additional financial benefits, including exclusive scholarship opportunities for graduates or their immediate family members. These scholarships are typically available only for members. Financial aid or further discounts on tuition for continuing education classes are other potential benefits.
Alumni associations commonly provide graduates with a range of career services and opportunities. Through access to job postings and other benefits, these opportunities allow graduates of all disciplines and skill levels guidance in their careers.
Career services might include certificate programs, which provide additional skills on an accelerated timeline. For example, a cybersecurity certificate might teach skills in vulnerability assessment and wireless security.
The career services department sometimes offers professional development courses to help you grow even more proficient in useful, career-oriented skills. Career services might also help you choose between degree options, like a PhD or doctoral program, and map out postdoctoral career options.
Even if you’re not sure which direction your career is going, an alumni association’s career services might be able to help. Some associations offer job placement assistance, allowing members to more easily explore positions in a field of their interest. (University of Phoenix does not offer this perk at this time.)
You might also find that your association’s career services helps you prepare for interviews or at least connects you with alumni in a similar field.
Some alumni associations offer opportunities for volunteer service, particularly if graduates live close to their alma mater. Graduates can give back to their community by providing time, money or resources to those in need.
Most volunteer opportunities available through an alumni association are officially sanctioned by the college or university. They often become school events and might even involve community outreach efforts where current students also participate.
Volunteer opportunities do more than benefit college or university graduates; they also benefit all participants. Many volunteer opportunities allow graduates to exercise their skills or learn new skills while serving their community. You may also meet other alumni at a volunteer event, which is a chance to build your professional network.
In some cases, an alumni association allows students to keep their university email accounts after they graduate. This provides several benefits to newly graduated students, particularly if they have not yet set up a professional email address.
A university email account lends additional credibility to any communication. It helps graduates maintain professionalism while sending email, particularly if they’re corresponding with potential employers or other career-related contacts. Keeping a university email account active also allows students to access any files, documents or email threads from their college days that might be helpful after graduation.
Sometimes you might need to use your old university email account to access the exclusive benefits an alumni association offers. For example, you might need to sign in to an online portal with a valid university email account to access networking event invitations, job listings and other career services.
One of the biggest benefits of an alumni association is the connection you maintain with other graduates. No matter where graduates travel, they can always connect with classmates this way. This connectivity helps preserve friendships and keep relationships strong as graduates mature and grow into their own careers.
In some cases, staying connected with your college network can also create new professional opportunities. Connecting with other graduates through an alumni association allows for strategic networking — building professional relationships with other people who share your career goals.
Professional networking with other alumni has many benefits. You’ll be able to expand your list of professional contacts and even share knowledge that might help other graduates improve their own careers. A well-established professional network can allow you to access additional job openings, improve your professional profile and grow your personal brand.
Most former college and university students are eligible for their school’s alumni association. In some cases, associations might require that you graduated from the school or completed a certain number of credits before being considered eligible to join.
Either monthly dues or a one-time payment usually is required to join. Many schools offer membership discounts for recent graduates and for those who graduated years ago but never joined the association. Some schools offer ways to make payments more affordable.
Contacting your alma mater is one of the best ways to learn more about your school’s alumni association. You can also connect with your alma mater on social media or ask a current member to discover more about your school’s specific requirements and benefits.
Some schools’ alumni networks are larger than others. Colleges with large networks often host regional, national or international events — no matter where the original campus might be located.
University of Phoenix, for example, is a largely online university with an alumni association that has more than a million members. While some alumni associations expect a fee to join, all UOPX degree graduates are automatically enrolled and welcome. There are at least 50 chapters throughout the United States with roughly 24,000 active members. Members have access to career tools and resources, a special tuition rate for alumni, merchandise discounts, an alumni magazine and exclusive events several times a year.
Even if your school’s network isn’t among the country’s largest, it may still provide life-changing benefits. Whether you need discounts on larger purchases or additional industry contacts to unlock your next career move, an alumni network of any size often offers opportunities worth looking into.
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