Alumni Relations: The Flip Side of Recruitment

The admissions office recruits prospective students, while the alumni office works to engage graduates in furthering the college’s reputation, finances, and reach. They’re at opposite ends of the journey in higher education, or so it would seem. But there are ways in which both offices have similar and compatible aims, making them ripe for collaboration and sharing of resources. For enrollment staff, alumni and the alumni relations staff can provide fantastic assistance in formal and informal recruitment efforts.

Alumni Engagement and Enrollment Goals

One way for admissions to enlist the help of the alumni office is by making admissions stories and plans available to be communicated to alumni. When engaged alumni know about the campus’s enrollment goals and current happenings, they can use their networks to spread the word, giving some free but positive PR for the admissions department. The alumni relations office works to engage graduates so they can positively impact the school. Yes, staff are looking to get financial support and foster strategic partnerships through good relationships with alumni. Still, they also want to include alumni in the current life of the college—the alumni newsletter, web pages, and alumni events are great venues to communicate admissions messages.

Tapping Alumni Networks for Recruitment

Many schools tap their alumni to help in admissions activities directly. Alumni can be “ambassadors” who attend college fairs, host events for interested students, speak with prospects, and participate in other recruitment activities. Having a way to “give back” to their school can be a rewarding experience that benefits the alumni office by personally engaging these volunteers. Alumni can participate by creating written or video testimonials about their time at the college, and they can also write letters or speak with admitted students. In addition, admissions staff can host events that include potential students and alumni, which have synergistic benefits in engaging both constituencies. In terms of positive PR, there is no one better to encourage prospective students than an alumnus who has warm feelings about their time in school.

The Seamless Journey from Applicant to Alumnus

Many universities aim to integrate communications and marketing to reach the broadest community interested in the school. As marketing activities become more sophisticated, personalized, and digital, the similarities inherent in engaging these varied communities make it advantageous to connect the ends of the journey with a seamless communications strategy. Of course, you can’t leave out the students who are the middle and arguably, the most critical stakeholders in this journey. Promoting the college is a campus-wide goal, so collaboration between departments is the new norm. The admissions and alumni departments have essential roles in efforts that benefit the whole school.

The Role of Prominent Alumni in Enrollment

Famous or successful alumni are terrific publicity for the school, and these powerhouse alumni may be too busy to engage one-on-one with accepted students. However, with the assistance of the alumni office, admissions staff can collaborate on events involving prominent alumni or add side events just for prospective students. The attention that this can bring is hard to beat, and the lure of the stories of successful graduates of your institution is a goldmine for converting prospects to enrollees.

Online and Continuing Education Alumni Engagement

The student lifecycle has changed to be a less linear progression. While a bachelor’s degree used to be the primary credential needed, more people now return to colleges to get online advanced degrees and certificates. Many schools also offer online enrichment courses to engage alumni. The richness of more sophisticated online environments may provide new opportunities for admissions departments to get these students and future alumni involved in mentoring or other activities that involve them more deeply in the institution’s goals. Who better to tout the benefits of studying data analytics online than a current student? Students want their online degrees to give them the same credential as on-campus students. Along with the degree, the level of engagement with these alumni can become a richer source of PR for the school if staff can cultivate connections. This is an area ripe for new initiatives to bring more of the college experience, including alumni involvement, to online program participants.

Structural Similarities Make for Productive Collaborations

With most admissions offices now integrated as enrollment management departments, they include many of the same functions as the alumni office. Both offices perform market research, records management, outreach, prospect acquisition, and data analysis. Sharing some of the information and resources between the two departments can lead to performance increases for both. Whether the sharing is of technology, digital data, creative ideas, or even partnering on events, there are opportunities for structural collaboration that will be mutually beneficial. Alumni can become more engaged by becoming involved in recruitment efforts, and prospective students can be informed or persuaded by enthusiastic alumni. Crossovers in functional areas can translate to real gains on the ground.

Higher Education Engagement: Pre- and Post-Matriculation

Keeping people engaged with your university from their first inquiry to their legacy donations benefits your institution. Therefore, when enrollment professionals can combine marketing efforts with the alumni staff, it can help cast a wider net, use marketing resources wisely, and make for a more enriching experience for your prospective students and alumni.

Contact us today  to find out how we can help level up your education marketing strategy.

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you adapt to the evolving education marketing landscape and ramp up your efforts, please contact us today.

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