Graduating seniors, if they are anything like our interns, are probably feeling nostalgic and emotional right about now. It’s halfway through spring semester and graduation is creeping closer and closer every day.
There are two different kinds of seniors. First, you have your seniors who want to stay in college forever. Then you have seniors who are ready to get out into the real world and make some money. But no matter how ready you are to graduate, pretty much everyone will look back on college as the best four years of their life. So why wouldn’t they want to stay connected? I would assume that a majority of students follow a couple of university social media accounts. Our interns follow sites such as: Auburn Views, AU family, and of course Drunk Aubie. But are these accounts going to keep people connected when they move to a big city and start a career? Probably not.
Keeping connections is an absolute necessity for a university. Therefore, we came up with 5 tips to help keep graduating seniors and alumni connected.
1. Know your audience
This seems like it would be an easy one. Obviously you’re reaching out to alumni. But there are different types of alumni. Alum who graduated 1-5 years ago will be at a very different place in their life than previous students who graduated 10-20 years ago. Everyone thinks of alumni associations as another way to get more money out of people. The chance of receiving donations from graduates is much higher if you target older alums. If graduating seniors or recent grads are your targets for money, you might as well give up now. We are students and I promise we have no money. We have just given a small fortune to the university for the past four years and it is a terrible idea to start asking for more a couple hours after graduation.
2. Have a good social media campaign
Social media is everything these days, especially with millenials. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc., are all ways to reach out to both current students and alumni. Universities need to realize the results that can come from a good social media strategy. It is a great way to advertise reunions, promote fundraisers, spread information, and make alumni feel connected. By posting pictures and sharing memories a couple of days a week, alumni will want to be more involved. If you're looking for some examples check out these 5 colleges doing social media right.
3. Ask their Advice
Start asking seniors what they would improve at the university. People appreciate it when their opinions are valued. Since these students have been there the longest, they probably have some pretty good ideas for improvements. This should be a way to keep graduating seniors connected, because who wouldn’t want to see if their idea was implemented?
4. Establish young Alumni groups in different cities
Almost all universities have some type of Alumni Association, however, many recent grads complain that these associations are a little outdated for a twenty-something looking to make friends and have a good time. When I leave all of my friends at Auburn, I don’t want to go stand around at a bar with a bunch of middle-aged accountants. I want to connect with recent grads who are also struggling to pay rent and face-timing their college friends every hour. The Auburn University Harbart College of business started a Young Alumni program with chapters in the Atlanta and Birmingham area. They state, “We want participants to have fun, reconnect with college friends and meet peers in the area who’ve also graduated from Harbert.” More colleges should look into this type of program to grow their young alumni involvement. This way alumni can keep connected to the university and to people they share that special bond with.
5. Make Events Fun
Start by making alumni events a big deal around campus. Put up advertisements everywhere to get people talking. If you make an event look fun, students will want to be a part of it. As I said earlier, seniors are sad to be leaving the place they called home for the last four years. So if they start seeing ads for alumni events, those ads might start a text in the sorority group message that hasn’t been used in forever. Some of our interns have said they've already started planning a college reunion and they haven’t even graduated yet. An alumni event for game day might just be the perfect reason to get everyone together.
Want to learn more about higher education and inbound marketing, but not sure where to get started? Download our FREE eBook below to learn how Verge Pipe Media can help!
photo credit: Homecoming 2008 - 06 via photopin (license)