Marketing Communications Education

Using Alumni to Boost Student Retention

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the retention rate for full-time degree-seeking undergrads who entered 4-year degree-granting institutions in fall 2018 was 81%. And the retention rate of private, for-profit 4-year institutions was just 63%. But this doesn’t have to be the case for your college or university. By involving your alumni now, you can boost the confidence of your undergrads and ultimately retain more of your student body. So here are a few strategies to engage your alumni for long-term student retention and growth. 


group of students talking

Current students are more likely to gain confidence in their university if they see what their alumni have accomplished out in the world. After all, an alumni’s success after graduation is the university’s true “proof of concept.” So it’s important to showcase your successful alumni by displaying “alumni spotlights” to current students in the classroom, on social media and through special events on campus such as speaking events or career fairs.


Two students talking

Forming an alumni-student mentorship program could also be key to increasing retention rates. As illustrated by The Nursing Journal, 76% of full-time students who’d been mentored successfully by an older student completed the semester. By contrast, the completion rate was just 36% for students who hadn’t been mentored. 

With this in mind, consider engaging alumni for mentorship opportunities based on the same field of study via LinkedIn or quarterly in-person events to help your students and alumni develop relationships. Inviting alumni that are experts in specific fields to guest lecture is another excellent way for them to get more face-to-face time with students. Your alumni will feel more connected with your university if they know a few current students and can be a resource to them.


two street signs that read Alumni DR and Homecoming Circle

An updated alumnus is an engaged alumnus. So provide them with consistent and fresh content that keeps them in the loop with their alma mater and then invites them to share their resources such as their time, career insight, pro tips from their time as a student and more. 

This could include inviting them back for more than just reunions to stay connected, playing up the nostalgia of being a former student and amping up the feeling of youth with your communications, or making your alumni feel important by asking for their input on surveys for future decisions in the university. The latter is also an excellent way to keep alumni employment and demographic info up-to-date to help better inform your future marketing strategies.

In all, retaining your student body is all about connections. If your students have an opportunity to meet with past alumni, see their success, as well as a path to their own success, your students are more likely to graduate from your college or university. Alumni involvement and engagement is vital to the long-term life of your university. So give them every opportunity to stay engaged, visit and mentor the next generation of alumni.