5 Things the Best University Alumni Networks Have in Common

Ask most alumni relations professionals the secret of success and they will have a common refrain.

They will tell you that best way to create a group of engaged, committed – and generous – alumni is to begin with a group of engaged, committed students.

What do you think makes an alumni network great?!


The University of Pennsylvania (UPENN) has educated Warren Buffet and Donald Trump, the former of which is the third richest man in the world! Other notable alumni include Ivanka Trump and actress Elizabeth Banks. Any university that has produced 25 billionaires, is doing something right amiright? UPENN holds an endowment of over $7.7 billion.

 HarvardGSDGraduationHarvard University, know as one of the most distinguished universities in the world (and for good reason!) Harvard graduates bear less debt than most, just 26% hold any form of debt after graduation (allowing for more donations to their beloved university!) Not only that, Harvard has produced over 52 billionaires! Harvard maintains an endowment of over $32 billion. Sign me up! (Harvard Graduation pictured, left)

 Stanford University alumni are the top of the list on the Top 50 Alumni Networks (www.bestcollegevalues.com) with almost double the score of a huge 30.53, almost double that of number 50 on the list. More than a third of Stanford alumni hold management positions and have made donations back to the school. Stanford maintains a $18.6 billion endowment. As well as boasting Tiger Woods, Stanford university’s most wealthy 1,174 alumni,   are worth over $171 billion!

“One surprising fact: 35% of billionaires didn’t graduate from college.”


Universities are big and complicated institutions, ever advancing with the times, it is clear to see however, that the sense of heritage is an important factor in regards to branding.

What do you think of when you think of Harvard? Large, grand halls? The colour Crimson?! Natalie Portman!? Thats right, there are so many associated feelings and thoughts spring to mind when we think of Harvard. A strong brand is what keeps these guys on top.

Cambridge university makes us think of those fur trimmed gowns and of course, rowing!  Cambridge have their very own shade of blue! Rowing since its founding in 1828, the Cambridge University Boat Club (CUBC) is one of splendor and a vast history.

SynonymousPenn_State_Nittany_Lion with Blue, white and football, is Penn State! It is even rumoured that “Penn State students, bleed blue and white for life!. (Penn State’s football Mascot- Nittany the Lion pictured, left).

Princeton University? Black and Princeton orange, obviously! The first recorded use of the colours was in 1867 at a baseball game at Yale. The colours were suggested by a freshman George Ward. The proposal made sense since William III in whose honour the University’s first building had been built, carried the title the Prince of Orange. And so it began.



Not only do Cambridge University have an outstanding rowing club (amongst other important things such as educational values & integrity), they boast some of the best minds of our century, here is a very, very short list; Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, Stephen Hawking, David Attenborough and Stephen Fry! These notable alumni sit amongst a wealth of others.

Harvard University as mentioned previously, boasts Natalie Portman, Barack Obama, John F. Kennedy, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg! Amongst many, many others. Now, what better position could a university ask to be in, than one where they have direct ties to the current, and numerous, previous Presidents of the United States? None, thats what!

Finally, Princeton; educators of Alan Turing, Woodrow Wilson, Michelle Obama and Brooke Shields!


Not only do Columbia college offer complimentary lapel pins for their alumni (That’s right! If you haven’t yet got one, get yours here!), they also offer a wealth of networking softwares and opportunities for their alumni and current students. By using VineUp software, Columbia university alumni are able to network with thousands of others, creating career, networking and shadowing opportunities that otherwise may have been missed.

If you are lucky enough to be a Harvard university alumni, you are likely to be offered a host of career development opportunities. Harvard offer an extensive network of 187 Harvard Clubs, 39 Shared Interest Groups and also have a career development service known as “The Crimson Compass that allows members to search for career opportunities. As well as all of this, Harvard alumni are entitled to discounted removal van hire, car rental and laptop discounts!

Likely to be the most diverse in its offerings is UPENN. As well as a specialised Alumni Insurance Program, UPENN offers perks galore! These include but are not limited to; UPENN branded licence plates, UPENN branded credit cards, UPENN personal portfolio services, pet insurance discounts and publishing discounts, truly a-ma-zing.


Employment rates post graduation tend to reflect directly on the academic integrity of a university. i.e. The top 5 most influential alumni networks according to Best College Values all hold between 31 and 39% of alumni are currently holding managerial positions. With alumni giving ranging between 34 and a huge 49%! So to have a high employment rate in both the literal and hierarchical sense is a must for the best university alumni networks.

In 2013 of the 3,039 Syracuse University students surveyed, almost 100% of graduates had full time jobs in the 6 months following graduation.

Taking away some thoughts from this list, what do you think are important characteristics for a University Alumni Network to possess?

Source: 5 things the best university alumni networks have in common – OFAPE _ The Open Forum For Advancement & Alumni Professionals In Education

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