September 17, 2007

Mentor Students - Virtually!

Schools, from elementary through college, often have alumni return to their alma mater to provide mentoring in the form of speeches, speaking with the students, and answering questions.  I was reminded of this recently as I read an article at the  In this case, the school is an elementary school, and Mr. Charles Morrow returned to Fair Street Elementary to speak with a class of second graders.  Mr. Morrow talked to the kids about the way their school looked in 1941, the year he graduated.  By sharing his memories, the kids were able to connect with history through his eyes.

This is an amazing opportunity to connect your alumni with students.  Unfortunately, it's not always easy to arrange these types of events.  There's another way, a simpler way, but one that offers more far-reaching benefits.  High schools and college alumni associations are missing a valuable opportunity to bring alumni to students by the use of webcams.  Think about it!  By using a webcam, a data projector to project a computer screen, and Skype phone service to connect alumni, you can have alumni visit your classrooms without ever leaving their offices!

By using the technology that is available today, you can have more opportunities to mentor students than ever before.  And more alumni can contribute - as it won't matter where they live.  Whether they're in the next city over, or a city thousands of miles away, they can still speak and mentor students at their alma mater.  The benefits are huge!  There's much more flexibility in the process, less expense, and the sessions could then be placed on your alumni online community for endless viewing.  This will pull other alumni back to the site to check in on a regular basis, which increases the overall connection, engagement, and viability of your community!

Alumni have valuable information to share with students and other alumni.  Making it easier for them to contribute and mentor by the use of webcams is an opportunity that shouldn't be overlooked!

Posted by Don Philabaum on September 17, 2007 at 12:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | Links to this Article

April 09, 2007

Western Michigan University - Helping Young Alumni

When a student graduates from college, they have a myriad of responsibilities, worries, and stresses on their mind.  If a graduate is relocating to a new state, they suddenly have even more to take into consideration.  17 percent of Americans move every year, and when they do, they face a series of hurdles and choices they need to make.  From finding a new place to live, the appropriate schools, where to shop, what church to go to, and even locating a new job, the move can be overwhelming.

Western Michigan University recognizes this, and to help their graduating seniors with this tough time frame of their lives, they give them a free year of membership in their Alumni Association.  By encouraging their young alumni to take advantage of the tools and services offered, Western Michigan University is paving the way for an easier transition from college life to real life.

Membership gives these graduating seniors valuable career connections, moving discounts, access to medical insurance, and the ability to stay connected with their alma mater.  Also, by offering the first year of membership free, both alumni and the university come out ahead.  Young alumni can use the tools and services offered for an entire year, at no cost, which means they are more likely to renew their membership when the first year ends.  An active alumni force is important to all universities, so every member that renews is a bonus to Western Michigan University.

One way to enhance this already terrific service is if Western Michigan University taught their graduating students how to use the alumni online community as a transition tool.  To do this, the university would need to seek out transition volunteers who would be willing to help the alumni in the community.  In this way, graduating alumni and young alumni could locate them in the online directory and ask for help in getting around the community!

By offering a free year of membership, Western Michigan University is ensuring that their Alumni Association continues to grow and thrive.  Plus, at the same time, they are helping their young alumni get a foothold into real life.  This practice benefits all involved!

Posted by Don Philabaum on April 9, 2007 at 11:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | Links to this Article

January 24, 2007

Saint Mary's College - Touring Jerome

While most, if not all, colleges and universities have an online alumni community, Saint Mary's College Alumni Association has taken their community a step further.  To begin with, their online alumni community has a name, Jerome!  In addition to naming their community, Saint Mary's College Alumni Association has also created a visual tour of the community itself.  The tour is easy to understand and guides alumni through each aspect of the community, with complete descriptions and explanations on how to make the best use of the community.

The tour begins with an overview of the online alumni community as a whole, and explains the benefits alumni will receive by utilizing the community.  It quickly moves on to detailed instructions, tips, and examples of how each section of the online alumni community works.  The tour covers everything that alumni need to know on using the directory, searching for profiles, connecting with other alumni, mentoring, networking, clubs and chapters, communication via email, setting up profiles, volunteering, and much more.

By offering this tour to alumni, Saint Mary's College Alumni Association is supplying the information needed for current Alumni Association members to take full advantage of every area of their online community.  Beyond this, however, they are also ensuring that young alumni, and those alumni who are not yet members of the association, all have a visually compelling format in order to understand how the community works, how it will benefit them, and ways they can give back to their alma mater.

It's important for all colleges and universities to keep their alumni connected, interested, and involved.  Without ongoing participation, online alumni communities don't thrive, volunteers are hard to find, and everyone loses out.  Encouraging participation is vital.  Saint Mary's College Alumni Association is not only encouraging this participation, they are teaching all of their alumni everything they need to know to succeed - within the alumni community and out.  Jerome, and the tour, is a win-win situation for everyone!

Posted by Don Philabaum on January 24, 2007 at 02:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | Links to this Article

January 15, 2007

Oklahoma State University and their Alumni Association's Legacy Program

Oklahoma State University's Alumni Association has developed an interesting and exciting program to benefit the children and/or grandchildren of current OSU Alumni Association members.  This program is called the Legacy Program.  How it works is simple, yet the effects, and the benefits, of the program are many.  For a child to be included in the Legacy Program, parents or grandparents are required to be current members of the Alumni Association.  In addition, the parent or grandparent will need to complete a registration form.  This will allow the legacy (the child) to receive the full benefits of the program.

As the child grows, they will receive age appropriate gifts at specific times from the Alumni Association.  They will also be invited to attend chapter legacy programs from the Alumni Association - which will be a continual reminder that they are a part of the OSU family as they grow toward college age.  Also, each year an event titled "Grandparent University" is held, and members of the Legacy Program can attend with their grandchild.  This one and a half day summer camp is held on the OSU campus and attendees receive a "degree" for "graduating" in one of eight majors.  Beyond this, there are other activities, such as "Legacy Day," which is held specifically for high school sophomores and juniors to learn about OSU's traditions and history; and a freshman transition summer camp called "Cowboy Camp," which is held for graduating seniors from Oklahoma high schools.  The tuition for Cowboy Camp will be paid for any legacy whose parents and/or grandparents are current Alumni Association members.

By offering such a dynamic program, Oklahoma State University's Alumni Association is teaching their children and grandchildren about OSU from an early age.  They are instilling the rich history of the University into the child, which raises the chances that they will also attend OSU.  It's a terrific way to inspire the young to continue a family tradition of attending OSU.  In addition, it allows the child to continually learn about OSU as they grow, to become comfortable on campus, and to keep their college education in mind as they head toward their future.

Posted by Don Philabaum on January 15, 2007 at 12:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Links to this Article

December 08, 2006

Indiana University’s School of Medicine Mentoring Program

One of the most rewarding, and satisfying, roles alumni can provide to students, and young alumni, is the mentor role.  Indiana University's School of Medicine's Alumni Association realized this and created a simple, but effective, Mentoring Form to assist in finding the right match between mentor and student.  The form itself is easy to understand and clear in its questions for the alumni to answer. 

Of course, there is the professional and educational background information so a student can locate a possible mentor in a career path they hope to be on one day, but beyond that, there is also a section for personal interests to be highlighted.  This allows the student to find some commonalities, and that will ease the barriers between mentor and student so they can relate to each other in an easier fashion. 

Also, at the bottom of the form is a list of opportunities that the mentor can check off to show interest.  In this way, a student will know if they are open to offering advice on a resume, having a phone conversation, assisting them with an internship, meeting for lunch, etc.  This diminishes the possibility of a misunderstanding developing right at the beginning of the mentoring relationship.

Mentoring accomplishes several goals.  Students realize that the alumni association is more than just an events planning committee, and that alumni are there to help them in their careers.  Who better to shine a glowing beacon of light down the murky path that lies ahead of them than those who have already traveled that road?  For mentors, they will be provided with a sense of satisfaction by the rewarding experience of offering their insight and expertise to a student.

For Indiana University's School of Medicine's Alumni Association, the mentoring program is an added value for their online community.  Connecting alumni with students is one of the most powerful relationships that can exist - both within the online community and in the real world, for the benefits are immense.  It is truly a win-win situation for all involved!   

Posted by Don Philabaum on December 8, 2006 at 12:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Links to this Article

November 16, 2005

Embry-Riddle's great idea!

Recruit New Student with Your Online Community

Embry-Riddle’s Alumni Association is breaking down the silos between their department and the admissions office by recruiting alumni volunteers to help bring in new students to the college.

What a great idea!

The alumni association is offering alumni the opportunity to fill in a short form with a prospective student’s name. By doing this, the alumni association reminds the alumnus/a that their recommendation of the student is WORTH $4,000 to the prospective student.  Wow!  Now that would make anyone feel good on a cold, dull winter afternoon!

Here’s verbatim what the copy they use to entice their alumni to recommend a student.

To our esteemed alumni,
Your endorsement is worth $4,000 to a new Embry-Riddle student! At no cost to you, you can support future students' education at Embry-Riddle by simply signing your name. The deserving new student(s) you refer will receive the added benefit of a $1,000 grant, renewable annually for up to four years, toward their tuition for full-time undergraduate study at Embry-Riddle's Prescott , Ariz. campus or Daytona Beach , Fla. campus.

The form only requests the alumnus/a and student contact information.  The admissions office sends the necessary information to the student and sends to the alumni an endorsement certificate. By endorsing this student, the alumni provide an automatic $1,000 grant each year for four years!  To see what the endorsement certificate looks like visit

I haven’t seen an easier to adopt, alumni volunteer program that would provide so much benefit to your organization. A simple recommendation built around a simple grant form could net hundreds of new students, hundreds of thousands of dollars in tuition payments and future donations of millions of dollars from alumni.  Can’t get much better than that!

Click on the image to view Embry-Riddle Recruitment page.

What are your thoughts?  Are you familiar with other ideas like this?  Share them with others.

Posted by Don Philabaum on November 16, 2005 at 10:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | Links to this Article