There is significant research about student retention and graduation in higher education. But what about once they’ve successfully achieved their degree?
Alumni still have a lot to contribute to their colleges and universities.
One method for engaging alumni is through alumni mentoring platforms, where graduates pair with students, faculty, or other interested mentees and provide guidance about their industry and experience.
Alumni mentoring can benefit colleges and universities in several ways, including philanthropy, marketing, and student employability (Dollinger, Arkoudis, & Marangell, 2019).
Fortunately, online mentoring programs can help scale alumni mentorship and help your institution of higher learning reap these benefits.
Here are the ways an online mentoring program can help you build your alumni mentorship:
Coordinate Relationships Between Alumni and Mentees
Online platforms assist in the formation of relationships between alumni mentors and mentees. Users can create profiles, and they can search for alumni mentors in their field.
This system can take a lot of the guesswork out of matching mentors with their mentees, and the mentoring relationship can start with both parties already interested in learning from the other.
For example, as participants build profiles of their interests, expertise, and life experiences, they are forming the foundation for a relationship. When a mentee sees a mentor whose activities and passions spark inspiration, the basis already exists for a meaningful mentorship.
This added engagement from mentees, and the ease of partnering, helps grow alumni mentoring programs. Alumni experience a less complicated and unsure process as they’re matched with mentees.
Facilitate Access and Communication
Without an online platform for alumni mentorship, participation is limited to the ability to meet on campus or communicate via email or phone.
If alumni need to be able to travel to campus or a nearby location, a mentorship program can end up severely limited. Only alumni who still live near their alma mater will be able to participate. And while data shows that about 50% of college graduates stay in the area (Robbins, 2018), this still leaves out the tens of thousands who find jobs elsewhere.
Email and phone help bridge the distance gap and allow for increased accessibility. But it can be difficult to form a strong mentoring relationship with asynchronous communication, like email, or just by talking on the phone.
Online mentoring platforms offer video as a strong communication medium. Mentors and mentees can see and hear each other, and the relationship can feel more natural.
Additionally, with video, participants can show each other items of interest, and Alumni can take their mentees on virtual tours that enrich the industry knowledge they can share.
Create Connections with the Campus Community
Alumni who participated in mentoring programs report that they did so because they wanted to help and support the younger generation, and they looked forward to making connections with participants in the program, whether students or other mentors (Dollinger, Arkoudis, & Marangell, 2019).
Online mentorship platforms help encourage this sense of belonging. Alumni from around the globe can develop relationships with students on the campus of their alma mater, which for many can foster a sense of pride and accomplishment.
Additionally, those alumni who are working hard to sustain their own businesses or develop new ideas have the opportunity to share their work with others. It’s an advantageous relationship for many parties, as entrepreneurs and startups gain visibility, and students learn about career opportunities and gain knowledge.
At your university or college, alumni mentorship grows when you use an easy, community-building online platform. Geographical barriers break down and both mentors and mentees flourish.