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Engaging Alumni: Rethinking Alumni Relations for Seniors

Engaging Alumni: Rethinking Alumni Relations for Seniors

This blog will discuss and analyse the changing priorities of Alumni Relations for Seniors. 

The world of education is facing a number of demographic changes.

I recently wrote about the growth of alumni from emerging markets such as China and the opportunity this presents to schools.

However there is another demographic change that offers a different but significant opportunity in engaging alumni.

Students appear to be getting older, but are alumni relations departments changing their approach in response?  Are they applying alumni relations best practices?

A recent article in the New York Times highlighted the change some leading education institutions like Tulane University are making to respond to this growth in adult learners by creating a program to help alumni focus on second careers with a social purpose.

Moreover the prize of attracting mature students means that alumni relations with specifically older alumni is becoming more important.  As Art Koff, founder of the website RetiredBrains.com, quoted in the same New York Times article explained

Campus classes are a natural pull for loyal alumni.  If I were advising universities on ways to increase revenue, I would target boomers, seniors and retirees, particularly alumni, with information on being able to audit certain classes and then try to convert them to pay for additional courses.

Furthermore, executive education programs are yet another clear example of the significant value that comes from treating alumni as potential repeat customers.

So what does this mean for alumni relations departments?

Well for a long-time, colleagues in development functions have been aware that older alumni are an important segment.  However this segment also offers schools a unique alumni relations opportunity.

Normally with alumni engagement the focus is about the unique value proposition that your school offers alumni.

For older alumni this would mean providing professional and social value but ensuring that it is relevant to their life-stage.

However what is also different with this segment is that the engagement is based less upon what they can get from the alumni network, but much more about what they can give back.

Examples include giving senior alumni the chance to share their accumulated wisdom through becoming a mentor, a role model, or providing guest lectures.

What do you think senior alumni need that their school can uniquely assist with?

I would welcome your thoughts and examples of best practice on alumni relations for seniors.


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