Transitioning a strong connection to the institution may be

Transitioning Students to Alumni

Spanning the transition from graduating student to alum is a
vital part of the alumni development process. With appropriate development, by
final year, students must be widely aware that the graduated class or alumni
are essential to the institution and that students will accept this same role
in just a matter of time. Conley states that alumni who continue to have a
strong connection to the institution may be more likely remain the most engaged
(1999). Student relationships with faculty and administration are a foundation
for loyalty to the institution (Rissmeyer, 2010). Moser (1993) asserts that it is
important to involve current students in the realm of alumni giving. This involvement
is beneficial because it helps graduating students to understand their future role
as alumni contributors. According to Moser, it is a very good way to let not
only senior students but students in general know the necessity and responsibility
of their future role as alumni. Senior year programming that focuses on how the
institution can benefit alumni in areas like networking and career preparedness
and how students can be engaged outside of financial commitment will begin
developing the mutually beneficial relationship necessary for successful alumni
relations (Jackson, 1994). Alumni who give time or other non-financial
contributions may have a higher propensity for future financial giving to the
institution (Singer, 2002).

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Senior celebrations and senior gift challenges recognize
students for the contributions to the institution thus far and begin a pattern
of consistent engagement. Programming during senior year allows for alumni
officers to begin building relationships with young alumni and early
subscription to alumni communications like newsletters introduces students to
the experience they will have post-graduation (Rissmeyer, 2010).

 

 

2.2.1 Purpose of an alumni association.

Alumni are one of the most important assets to any institution.
They the backbone to the success of the prevalent representation of the institution
in the real world. According to Arceo, alumni serve as a bridge between the
institution and their graduates. Strong relationships between the alma mater and
alumni positively impact alumni involvement and alumni contributions (Petit,197;
Duronio&Loesin,190). Many alumni networks were initially started from
regional groups of alumni brought together for university fundraising
activities. Later, these networks slowly gained added importance in the
development of the universities because of their enormous outreach potential
that benefits the alumni. Alumni were at one time students, and therefore have
a deep and strong connection to their alma mater, its success and future sustainability
(Singer, 2002). Alumni are the core group of constituents and largest source of
voluntary support.

 

 “In 1994, alumni contributed
more than 58 percent of the total support for higher education, while non-alumni
contributed 23 percent.  Alumni have given
more philanthropic support than non-alumni every year since 1980, except in 1984
.”- (Horton, 1990).

 

Moser (1993) acknowledged Horton claims in the sense that
alumni were responsible for fully one quarter of all private voluntary support of
higher education. And in a study on the voluntary support of education, the Council
for Aid to Education reported that the majority of financial contributions came
from alumni (Morgan,1995). The alumni groups have been in existence for decades
and they are constantly changing with time. In the present landscape of
technological and social change, important transformations are underway in
terms of how we live and work. We refer to contemporary times as the
“information age” or “knowledge based society”, characterised by the diffusion
of information and communications technologies (ICT’s) and the increasing
demand for new educational approaches and pedagogies that foster lifelong
learning (Fischer & Konomi, 2005). There have been very big changes in the
recent years with the development of the internet and social networking that
forces the alumni system to undergo huge changes. Emerging technologies such as
social networking software enable new and unique opportunities for the
mentoring and retention of information technology graduates. Therefore, it is
really important for institutions to focus on the alumni networks and find ways
to enhance their growth and development. The activity of a social network can be
described as the act of sharing business or social relationships with the
purpose of exploring the needs, interests or common goals. Relationship
networks have been facilitated by the development of technology in a way that
people can interact with each other, sharing ideas, discussing their personal
or professional lives, without the need of traveling. According to Chia et al (2012), data from alumni
networks can be used to enhance mentoring programs, to develop online
networking and above all, they could be key components of maintaining students
and strengthening university programs. The authors clarify that initially,
alumni networks emerged as regional groups to raise funds, however, they gained
importance for their potential to promote the name of the university, which
benefits the career of all the alumni as well as current students.

 

In summary,
there are myriad number of reasons why there is the need for alumni groups or
associations in our society. McClintock (2009) adds that alumni associations
need to go beyond being event planners and acknowledge their role in educating
alumni about institutional direction and goals and the role for alumni in these
endeavours. They are a source of continual involvement by returning to campus and
participating in events. They are a vital source of financial supporting especially
when higher education expenses are costly due to economic and political factors
we sometimes face in the country. Due the established relevance of alumni
association, there is a need to develop a software that will easily facilitate,
maintain and manage alumni groups and their resources to be able to attain the
maximum benefit we can derive from the alumni for the institutions’ well-being.
Brant  and Regan (2002) state that they are in the connections business
and through these connections they promote the advancement of the institution,
but it is often difficult to measure the impact of the work, requiring
additional effort to asses and quantify the points of contact with the alumni.