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What are College Alumni?

Tricia Christensen
By
Updated Feb 26, 2024
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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.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By anon232078 — On Nov 28, 2011

I would like some ideas on how to get an alumni association started.

By behaviourism — On Jan 12, 2011

Many schools also like to give their college alumni surveys, either right after graduation to help rate their experience or even later on, to find out what they think of current events. This helps the community to grow and improve both within itself and in the way it interacts with the world.

By sherlock87 — On Jan 10, 2011

If you are having trouble finding fellow college alumni in your area, from your own school or other schools where you had friends, many college websites offer some sort of database where you can find the information you want about fellow graduates in the region where you live.

By recapitulate — On Jan 09, 2011

My school has a very strong college alumni network, and while when I was still enrolled I sort of rolled my eyes at the graduates who constantly returned for homecoming, commencement, and other big college events, now that I'm technically an alumna it makes total sense to me.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen

Writer

With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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