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Alumni Relations Best Practices: The Death of Email for Life

Alumni Relations Best Practices: The Death of Email for Life

For me, ’email for life’ is a symbol of how an education institution can become irrelevant to their alumni community.

For those of you who don’t already know, ’email for life’ is a service that many schools offer their alumni allowing them to continue to use their college email address after graduation.

Let’s take a step back for a moment and try to understand what the real value of such a service could be.

For a few weeks or even months after graduation, I could understand why it may be useful for an alum who has not yet found employment to continue using their college email address.  But beyond this limited time period, what is the value to alumni of ’email for life’?

Even if you were an alum from a very prestigious institution, when would you actually have the need to use that email address in practice?

I am also assuming that the percentage of alumni who actually regularly use such an address is pretty small.

So if this service is of very limited value to alumni, and probably hardly ever used, why do schools continue to provide it?

My focus here is not specifically about the pros and cons of ’email for life’ but more about the underlying issue I think it represents, i.e. why would schools continue to invest their limited resources into less relevant alumni career services?  Moreover, what is stopping schools applying alumni relations best practices?

Firstly, I think part of the answer is that the old thinking prevails that puts schools at the center of their alumni’s world even if the alumni have actually moved on.

Secondly, there is a cultural reluctance to change. The easy option is to simply continue investing resources in the same things year after year.

Finally, I think there is a self-confidence issue.  I suspect some alumni professionals do not believe they can actually offer something of value to their alumni so resort to the old ways of doing things.

I fundamentally disagree.

I believe there is a huge opportunity for schools to play a significant and valuable role in the lives of their alumni.  This is two-fold:

  1. Career communities – providing alumni with access to mentors, jobs and connections that can really help them individually and each other.
  2. Life-long learning – providing alumni with access to both on-going professional development and cutting edge research made available specifically for them.

Schools have real potential to be relevant and offer value to their alumni if only they are willing to make that change.

It is time for the ‘death’ of ’email for life’ and all it represents.

It is time for schools to start being relevant again.

I would welcome your thoughts.

Click here to read an excellent article on The Case for Mentoring.


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