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When keep in touch becomes cliché 

Dear Friends,

In 2017, I embarked on life as an entrepreneur. My business name? Keep in Touch Education (with the nice acronym KITE!). 

Keep in touch is all too familiar a phrase in alumni relations. At this time of year in many parts of the world we are planning for graduates to join our alumni community. Keep in touch falls off the lips. 

Perhaps it is because I am in research mode, but I wanted to dissect this phrase for all of us:

Keep – this implies they have already been in touch, engaged in the institution’s community. In my article Higher Education across the Lifespan, I present a Gown to Grave Alumni Participation Model which I depict in a visual form here. Often, students (alumni!) are viewed as proactive, especially as they jump through hoops to meet graduation requirements. Alas, this doesn’t mean they understand (or are) connected to their alma mater. 

In – I liken this to alumni identity – have we internalized our connection with the institution? Do our graduates feel they belong? Jin Goh and Sarah Kim tease this out in their recent article (bookmark this journal Philanthropy & Education for more terrific alumni research!). Their small scale study showed ‘sense of belonging positively predicted both interests in engagement and self-reported past engagement with their alma mater.’ 

Touch – We are putting the onus to connect on our alumni. Yet, it is institutions that tend to do much of this reaching out. This can be a lopsided relationship. How can we restore this balance? Education! (that’s why I called KITE – Keep in Touch Education!). Through Alum from Day One initiatives throughout the student lifespan and ways to see the benefit of alumni lifelong connection (see our most recent initiative The Alumni Hour!). We need to strengthen the value proposition beyond nostalgia and make “touch” a must-do after graduation. 

Your challenge this week:

For alumni-facing professionals: Preparing for graduation? How can you break from the cliché of “keep in touch” to a new empowering phrase for the newest alumni? Hit reply if you have an inspiring one (I might share them in a follow-up newsletter!)

For alumni and students: How can you encourage a current student (or even a prospective student) to see the benefits in staying connected with their institution for life? By reflecting on the reasons to do this, you can start to activate in you the reasons to follow your own advice! Add bonus! Read some inspiring pre-graduation advice here

Do you want to inspire your alumni to keep in touch? I offer workshops and keynote speaking for alumni events in person and online. Get in touch to supercharge your keep in touch for your alumni – including alumni networking! 

Let’s keep in touch, 😊 

Maria

 

The Alumni Way

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Photo below: Here’s the Gown to Grave Alumni Participation Model I mentioned – The analogy involves sequoia trees and how they intertwine as they grow – much like the potential of our alumni network! The link is also available here.