Colleges With the Strongest Alumni Networks

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by Staff Writers

Published on December 1, 2020

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Strong alumni networks can provide benefits to graduates long after they finish their degree. These associations offer lifelong learning, networking, and career opportunities to school graduates in return for giving back to the school community in various ways, such as mentoring current students, joining regional clubs, and participating in campus activities and events.

This page provides a ranking of the colleges with the strongest alumni networks. Our methodology considers the size of the school and network, student ratings, campus visibility, alumni participation, and available programs and services for alumni and current students. The more engagement opportunities and programs available, the higher the alumni associations rank.

Top Colleges With the Strongest Alumni Networks

Colleges With the Strongest Alumni Networks

  1. St. Lawrence University
    Location

    Canton, New York

    Since opening in 1856, St. Lawrence University has focused on developing a collaborative community. The university ranks in the top five for student ratings and visibility. At St. Lawrence, current and former students rely on alumni services to provide meaningful educational, career, and networking opportunities.

    While in school, learners can participate in the Shadow-a-Saint program, which allows them to take a week-long immersion at an alum's workplace. St. Lawrence also invites alumni to connect with students in group settings or one-on-one discussions through the Laurentians in Residence and SLU Connect programs.

    The university also offers the Laurentians Investing in Networking and Careers program, which help students land internships and careers at places where alumni work.

  2. Princeton University
    Location

    Princeton, New Jersey

    Founded in 1746, Princeton University boasts an alumni network that exceeds 94,000 former students. The university regularly welcomes back graduates to participate in conferences, networking events, and yearly reunions that draw well over 20,000 participants. Princeton alums also enjoy access to more than 150 regional associations, lifelong learning opportunities, and alumni-faculty forums.

    For current Princeton students, the alumni network offers funding for school-sponsored volunteer programs. Learners can also access helpful resources from alumni, such as insights from online alumni profiles and in-person and virtual meetings. Alumni also host internship programs within their organizations and provide remote work projects that current students can complete for experience.

  3. Wabash College
    Location

    Crawfordsville, Indiana

    Founded in 1832, Wabash College enrolls fewer than 1,000 students annually, but the all-male school's alumni network makes a big impact, ranking first in alumni student ratings and visibility.

    After graduation, alumni enjoy access to the National Association of Wabash Men, which helps graduates develop relationships with one another. They can also join regional associations, engage in networking events, and access the school's alumni career services, which include resume reviews, job boards, and graduate school assistance.

    Current Wabash students lean on alumni through the school's externship program, which connects learners with alums for month-long job shadowing experiences. Learners can also complete professional immersions, week-long experiences that help students gain insight in the field and build a professional network.

  4. Pennsylvania State University
    Location

    University Park, Pennsylvania

    Founded in 1870, 15 years after the school was founded, the Pennsylvania State University alumni association boasts nearly 175,000 formal members and represents more than 725,000 total alumni. The association manages nearly 300 affiliate and regional groups, three official publications, and six programs that support alumni and Penn State in various ways.

    Penn State also allows active students to join the association, connecting current and former learners at events and mixers for networking and mentorship. Many alums become ambassadors to help current students prepare for the professional world after graduation. The university also offers virtual networking, events, and career coaching sessions.

  5. University of Virginia
    Location

    Charlottesville, Virginia

    Founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819, the University of Virginia keeps its alumni network engaged by offering access to travel plans and programs, running alumni events for networking and professional development purposes, and hosting lifelong learning classes. Alumni can also join career-building seminars on campus or in regional group settings.

    For current students, the UVA alumni network provides the Young Alumni Council, which puts new alumni in close contact with the school community and current students. Furthermore, the alumni mentoring program establishes a virtual line of communication between alumni and current students in an effort to foster networking and career opportunities. These programs contribute to the alumni network's high ranking in student ratings.

  6. Wellesley College
    Location

    Wellesley, Massachusetts

    Since the first students arrived at Wellesley College in 1875, the university has grown its alumni network, which now exceeds 35,000 members. The alumni association serves the school by connecting current and former students through various programs, technologies, and clubs. Wellesley ranks in the top 10 for alumni network student ratings and visibility.

    Wellesley students can benefit from the alumni association in many ways, including fellowship and internship programs and job sharing opportunities. The alums provide mentoring, job shadowing experiences, and leadership in return for receiving lifelong learning opportunities, awards, and access to a supportive network.

  7. Amherst College
    Location

    Amherst, Massachusetts

    Amherst College was founded in 1821. Even though the school serves fewer than 2,000 students annually, it has developed a significant alumni network over the years, with more than 23,000 association members. The college's alumni association offers graduates access to career resources, lifelong learning opportunities, libraries, and various activities and events.

    Current students can benefit from the alumni association in many ways, including through an online platform that connects students with graduates and internship programs that allow former students to train current students. Amherst also offers a mentoring program, pairs learners with peer career advisors, and puts on events to help students build their professional networks.

  8. Stanford University
    Location

    Stanford, California

    Since opening in 1881, Stanford University has built a network of graduates that exceeds 215,000 participants. Alumni stay in contact with the school to engage in professional development and assist future alumni. At Stanford, alums can access the online community, use the university's many resources and services, and participate in events and reunions.

    Stanford alumni also provide support for current students by offering job opportunities through the CareerConnect job board and guiding learners through career explorations and internships. More than 11,000 alumni also volunteer at Stanford by introducing students to the community, offering mentorship and leadership services, and fundraising for future events.

  9. Harvard University
    Location

    Cambridge, Massachusetts

    The oldest institution of higher education in the country, Harvard University features one of the largest and most reputable alumni networks. The community, which boasts more than 360,000 members, encourages alums to connect, network, and volunteer on campus and in the community. In return, alumni can access lifelong learning services, libraries, and school clubs and facilities.

    In addition to networking, volunteering, and giving back to the community, Harvard alumni support current students through groups and programs. Graduates post job openings and internship opportunities on the Crimson Career job board. They also participate in the Firsthand Advisors program, which provides mentoring and job search advice through resume reviews and mock interviews.

  10. Dartmouth College
    Location

    Hanover, New Hampshire

    Founded in 1769, Dartmouth College features an alumni network of over 83,000 members worldwide. The Association of Alumni was formed in 1854 and provides former students with access to more than 100 clubs, lifelong learning in over 70 classes, and annual reunions that draw in more than 4,000 graduates. The association also sponsors camp weekends, sporting events, and international travels.

    Dartmouth alumni provide services for current students in an effort to support and strengthen the alumni network moving forward. These services include networking and meeting with prospective students to provide educational support and assistance, volunteering in gift and donation drives for the college fund, and offering career advice and mentoring opportunities.

What Qualifies Someone As an Alumni?

All graduates become alumni, although many institutions offer specialized benefits for alumni who donate money or participate in campus activities after graduation. Some schools establish alumni associations, which typically require a membership fee and attendance at certain events.

While all graduates can call themselves alumni, only those who pay the membership fee can access member benefits, which may include access to certain school facilities, events and networking opportunities, and lifelong learning programs.

What Is the Purpose of an Alumni Network?

Alumni networks help graduates stay in contact with other graduates and make new connections with other alums. These networks provide significant career benefits for members, including career development and networking opportunities.

Alumni networks also give back to their school and the community and help the next generation of alumni achieve their career goals. Students can access alumni mentorship programs, participate in job shadowing experiences, and find specialized career opportunities.

How Important Is an Alumni Network?

An alumni network is very important for several reasons. Alumni can strengthen their professional networks, develop their skills and careers, and receive membership benefits, including partner discounts, insurance, and access to continuing education courses.

A strong alumni network also offers benefits for the schools. Established alumni networks actively promote the school through campus and community events and involvement. In turn, their actions and achievements establish a reputation that can attract positive attention from the public.

How Do Alumni Help Students?

The colleges with the strongest alumni networks boast an improved educational and campus experience. Engaged alumni contribute to campus events and activities and provide informative talks and leadership. Alumni networks also provide scholarship funding, internships, and career opportunities.

Current students often gain the most from alumni networks in the time leading up to graduation. They can start building their professional networks by connecting with other alumni or join a mentoring program to receive career advice. Some alumni associations allow learners to join while still active students, which can provide access to various member and network benefits.

How Do I Connect With Alumni?

The colleges with the strongest alumni networks host events and clubs that encourage alumni and students to mingle and share contacts and information. Many colleges provide classes and mentoring programs that create connections between these groups.

In some cases, learners can join alumni associations, which may grant them access to member directories and other networking events. Social media and campus organizations can also help introduce students to alumni, although most schools frown upon unsolicited job requests.

Find Additional Resources

Your Guide to Landing a Job

Your Guide to Networking & Mentorships

Your Guide to Internships


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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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