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5 Reasons why alumni involvement is important for private schools

Posted by Justin McLellan'16 on September 18, 2020 at 12:00 PM
Justin McLellan'16

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Private school students are deeply involved in their schools through extracurriculars and service. Why should that end at graduation? Read about why getting alumni involved in their former schools is essential to providing a top-notch education.

All schools have the same fundamental goal: to produce successful alumni. By providing quality education and engaging extracurriculars, private schools aim to prepare students for their lives beyond graduation by forming them into principled, adaptable, and well-rounded people. Yet a student’s relationship with their alma mater shouldn’t end when they receive their diploma. There are a number of ways alumni can engage in the life of a school, by volunteering, donating, networking, or even joining the faculty and staff. Alumni involvement allows schools to make use of one of its greatest resources and ultimately build a better school. Here are five reasons why alumni engagement is important for private schools:

1. Alumni Know School Culture

No one knows the culture of a school better than its students. By teaching a unique set of values and ideals, schools instill in their students a life philosophy that is put into action as they become alumni and go out into the world. The alumni perspective, formed by the values that their alma mater taught them, is key to retaining the strength of a school’s culture. As schools inevitably change to continue providing the best education possible, alumni voices are invaluable in conversations about the direction in which a school is headed. This ensures that a school’s mission is understood, sustained, and empowered as it grows.

2. Alumni Build School Reputation

Prospective families wonder how a school will shape their children. Often, the best way to answer this question is to look at a school’s alumni base. Each alum is a reflection of the way in which a school forms its students, and is a living testament to a school’s mission statement. It is important, therefore, for schools to showcase their alumni to demonstrate how their students can make an impact in the world.

3. Alumni Sustain School Development

Private schools rely on tuition fees to cover the day-to-day costs of running a school, yet to fund development initiatives schools often rely on support from donors. Alumni who are motivated to advance their alma mater’s mission provide a strong donor network on which a school can rely to continue its development. Whether it be improving sports facilities or increasing the amount of financial aid dollars a school can award, there are numerous ways alumni donors can make a real difference in the lives of students.

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4. Alumni Provide Educational Opportunities to Students

A school’s alumni base offers a wealth of educational opportunities for its current students. As students graduate and pursue their various interests, their experiences provide those younger than them with privileged information that can guide their own journeys. Students interested in a particular college can connect with an alum who went there to hear about their experience. Alumni working in various industries can teach students about their work and how they got there. By connecting with alumni, schools can tap into a vast pool of knowledge to deliver to their current students.

5. Alumni Increase a School’s Network

By organizing alumni associations, publishing alumni communications, and hosting reunion events, schools develop a strong network amongst their alumni. Fostering a strong network amongst alums helps connect schools to actors who can work to advance the school in various ways, such as referring quality educators to join the faculty or connecting the school to service initiatives. A school’s network can be extended dramatically through its alumni and can create countless opportunities to better serve its students.

At Sanford, our alumni are involved in all levels of carrying out our mission. Sanford alumni work in our college counseling program, lead our development office, and teach in our Lower, Middle, and Upper Schools. If you are a Sanford alum, click here to update your contact information and learn how to get involved today.

Justin McLellan graduated from Sanford as a lifer in 2016 before receiving a degree in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame. He has had extensive teaching experience, working in classrooms in the United States, Peru, and Italy. Justin returned to Sanford as a Communications and Technology Associate in 2020 and was awarded a Fulbright teaching fellowship at the Université catholique de Louvain in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, to begin in 2021.


Topics: Community, Sanford School, Alumni