Make an effort to stay in touch with not just your friends but also your university after graduation.
All right, so you’ve done it. You’ve listened to “Pomp and Circumstance,” packed up your apartment or dorm room and written the last graduation gift thank-you note to your great-aunt. You graduated. And while you might be busy dreaming up tips for your cousin who’s about to start college, did you ever think that you might be the one in need of advice?
College doesn’t end at graduation. Staying connected to your campus community can yield endless benefits, both professional and personal. Unfortunately, it can be hard to stay connected when you’re moving to a new city or starting a full-time job. Here are five tips on how to stay connected to your school.
1. Go to homecoming
It might seem a little early to think ahead to the fall, but homecoming offers the perfect opportunity to see your fellow graduates and check in with friends who are still in school.
Amherst College Homecoming 2011 gave alumni a unique chance to meet during “Clash of the Classes.” Graduates from even and odd years competed against each other to keep a 10-foot beach ball in the air all the way from the football field’s 50-yard line to the goal post.
Recent grads who want to network in a more conventional manner can attend the networking panels and receptions that many schools host during homecoming.
“In some years we’ve also had different receptions for professional groups,” said Marcy Larmon, director of on-campus programs in Amherst’s Office of Alumni and Parent Programs. “Educators have been one, (since) we have a lot of students go into education after graduation.”
2. Reach out to your school’s alumni network
Most schools will have some sort of alumni network that you can join once you graduate. Regional clubs hold events where you can meet fellow alumni, and you can make connections online, too. Amherst has an online directory where graduates can search for other alumni by traits such as major, profession or geography. That’s a perfect way to contact alumni who are working in fields that might interest you. Don’t be afraid to email them and set up informational interviews.
In addition to career advice, you might hear some good stories about back in their day when they walked uphill both ways in the snow to the dining hall. (Just try not to remind them that it didn’t snow where you went to school.)
3. Volunteer to interview new applicants
Besides encouraging networking among alumni, some schools’ alumni networks also help with the college admissions process. Signing up to interview new applicants will allow you to shape what the future student body looks like and give back to your university. Plus, you’ll get to tell your interviewees funny stories about when you walked uphill both ways in the snow to the dining hall.
4. Read the school newspaper
Only college newspapers will give you headlines like “Reflections from a Free Food Junkie,” “Introducing the Troubling Tummies Team” and “Sasquatch! 2012 Recap.” Reading your college newspaper will keep you informed about quirky campus events that won’t make it into the mainstream media. Many college publications also have blogs or Twitter accounts that you can follow, such as William and Mary’s. Lastly, don’t forget websites that include coverage from multiple colleges.
5. Go to grad school
It’s not hard to stay connected to campus if you’re, well, on campus. Technically, some universities have their graduate programs on different campuses than the undergraduate campus, such as Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, but you get the idea.
Returning to your undergraduate school for graduate school will guarantee that you’re in a community where you feel comfortable. You might even end up living with old friends.
Wherever you go for graduate school, don’t forget your first college community. The relationships you build there can last longer than four years, but only if you maintain them.
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