College alumni are people who have graduated or received a degree from a particular college or high school. When people receive their diplomas from a high school, they remain alumni of that school for life. The same holds true for college students, and people may be alumnus or alumna of several colleges if they’ve studied and graduated from more than one.
It should be noted that alumni is typically the plural of alumnus, which is usually defined as a male graduate of a particular institution. Alumna is the singular female form, and alumnae is the correct phrasing for female graduates. The masculine form and the masculine plural, alumnus and alumni, are now used with great frequency to refer to all students, regardless of gender, and always when speaking of a group of students that contain both genders.
For colleges, alumni are important. Many college alumni organizations play a vital role on campus and may help the college in various ways, particularly in the area of fundraising. Distinguished former students can be helpful to a college too, because they raise the profile of the college. Essentially the university gets bragging rights when college alumni have a certain profile or status, and most alumni associations are eager to keep in touch with students.
It isn’t just colleges that benefit from alumni programs or associations. College alumni may be the better for continued association with a university. They might continue to have access to the Internet via a university server, or they could have library privileges. Organizations for alumni may be able to offer people special deals too, sometimes on things like life insurance, health insurance, or credit cards. Another advantage could occur if people want to return to school at some point; they may have priority status in registration at colleges from which they’ve already graduated.
When college ends, students frequently move elsewhere to find work, and it can be hard keeping track of schoolmates over the years. Publications from college alumni associations may assist people in keeping tabs on old pals from school. There are also several Internet organizations that, for no charge, allow people to search for alumni of certain universities and get in touch with them again.
A term that causes some confusion is alumni college. This may be a series of classes that take place over a short period of time (like an alumni weekend) or that are offered for graduates over a longer period of time. Former graduates may teach them or they may be conducted by faculty, and they can represent a diverse subject range. Some are simply introductions to new features at a school, but many of them may have a scholarly intent and are meant to encourage graduates from the college to keep active in it.