Once students have dedicated four to five years at a university, it becomes time for graduation, a new career, and a new stage of life. Some might say “moving onto bigger and better things.”
While these next steps are often an exciting time, some of the most amazing experiences can happen during your time at school. Now, more than ever, universities are starting to understand the impact of community efforts, alumni connections, networking opportunities, and the concept of paying it forward to society. Now this by no means implies universities alone are responsible for these efforts coming to fruition. Often, students, alumni, and the efforts of passionate people giving back are the reason why these opportunities can and do exist. And now that you’ve stepped off campus and into the next stage of life, there are ways for you to get involved to create a positive change by giving back to your school – in time or money.
Imagine this: you graduated from your first-choice school five years ago and now have a career track. One day, your phone rings. It’s student services at your former university. They a few things they want to ask you: how you are doing, what are you doing for work, how does your degree translate to your career, and if you’d like to give back/donate to your alma mater.
So how do you give back to your school in the first place? There are so many different ways to do that. One of the easiest ways and least time-consuming ways is by paying it forward. In this case, I mean by actually donating some hard-earned money. A common saying is “money makes the world go-round,” and in some instances, that can be true. For university programs to thrive, like other programs, they require capital investment. Unlike a big company, universities don’t always have the luxury of having their own wall street investors for funding, and state funding doesn’t always cater to all of a university’s needs. What that means is that they must rely on donations or fundraising efforts to make sure the programs, scholarships, and events students want and/or need are readily available for them. That’s why the student services office is calling you, why you’re receiving mail about fundraising events, and why requests for donations are showing up in your mailbox. Sometimes, a donor can even give to specific clubs, programs, or even scholarships that they support instead of giving general donations. So, for those looking to give with specific ideas in mind, your focuses matter. Don’t feel discouraged from donating if you’re passionate about something in particular.
When universities ask for donations, they aren’t asking for money to invest in just themselves; what they are really asking for is an investment in students’ lives, students who are currently in the same position you once were. It doesn’t even have to be a big amount to be a quality donation; it’s about giving back what you can, when you can. There is no such thing as a donation that is too small. That money will make a difference in someone’s life.
Once a donation has been made, unless it is donated with a special request, it is placed in a general pool from which the university determines what, when, and where to spend it. That means if the university intends to have an alumni association, events would need to be funded either by the members of the association, the university itself, or a mixture of the two. It could also mean that a merit-based scholarship for up-and-coming female engineering students is fully funded for the year because of donation efforts. It could mean that the very important research your professor is conducting gets funded fully and helps improve the world. An uptick in donations can also equate to higher rankings for one’s alma mater, which means a more prestigious degree for soon-to-be graduates, and you alike. Plus, donations are often tax-deductible. What’s not to love about that? Everyone wins.
No Money, No Problems
If donating money is out of the question, it’s okay. There are a variety of other ways to add value to your alma mater. Or perhaps volunteering in another way is a good idea.
- Remember that alumni association I mentioned earlier? They need members to aid and mentor current students and even other alumni. And alumni events don’t put themselves together. Every good organization needs a president, coordinator, secretary, or volunteer. That person could be you.
- Student Services could have opportunities for you to mentor. Current students need experienced individuals who can give advice on interviewing, resume building and editing, job hunting, and post-graduation life.
- Many higher learning institutions offer free tutoring in a variety of subjects for students who need help. Becoming a tutor and offering help to a student may end up being one of the major reasons why they make it to graduation.
- There are language exchange programs available for native speakers to help foreign students practice their English and get better accustomed to their new surroundings.
- If there is an important event taking place, volunteer to help, whether it’s stuffing envelopes, setting up, or finding vendors for the event. Keep in touch with clubs you were once associated with and help with bake sales or other related events when possible. Sponsor your own events or offer to let your home be the meeting place for the club. Become a guest speaker and offer your expertise to students looking for answers about your field of study, travels, life, or work.
- One less discussed but also helpful way of giving back includes giving a referral. If you have a family member, friend, or associate who is considering going back to school, recommend your school. Tell them all the positive aspects of the university and how it would benefit them to attend. It never hurts to put in a good word, in person or on social media.
- Do you have your own business? Great! Offer current students or recent graduates internship positions, or post any new jobs on the school’s job board.
You get the idea! Brainstorm and put together your own list of things you think you could do to benefit your school. The opportunities are truly endless and everyone involved will greatly appreciate your time and effort.
Let’s face it: being a student isn’t always easy. The sleepless nights cramming for tests, endless group projects, hours of homework, prepping for presentations, and of course, the ramen noodle diet aren’t exactly fun. In fact, one of the things that makes it all worth it (aside from the degree of course) are the relationships you make along the way. Think about a great teacher, advisor, friend, or mentor who helped you through the rough patches. You are now in the position to be that person for someone else or at least in some way provide an opportunity for another student. Whatever the case may be, you have the power to make a difference. Whether that means getting your hands dirty or forking over some cash is entirely up to you. But the impact of your generosity will last forever.
10 Awesome Alumni Funded Scholarships
|Rank||School||Alumni Funded Scholarships|
|1||Louisiana State University||Forestry Wildlife and Fisheries Alumni Scholarship or John W. Red Lehman Forestry Scholarship|
|2||California State University-Northridge||Alumni Association Granny Heitz Scholarship Fund” or “Alumni Association Ed Peckham Scholarship Fund|
|3||Arizona State University||Medallion Scholarship Program|
|4||The University of Cincinnati||Regional Alumni Network Scholarship or UC4A Study Abroad Scholarship|
|5||University of Massachusetts||Putnam UMass Scholars Program|
|6||University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh||Alumni-Sponsored Excellence in Nursing Scholarship or Dan Klatt Memorial Scholarship|
|7||University of Minnesota||Alumni Society Promise of Tomorrow Scholarship or Alumni Society Larry Wilson Scholarship or Alumni Society Study Abroad Scholarship|
|8||American University||Alumni Association Scholarship|
|9||University of Wyoming||Multicultural Alumni Chapter Scholarship or Mary Lou Rechard Memorial Alumni Scholarship or Alumni Association – U.S. Veterans of War|
|10||University of Houston||Technology Alumni Scholarship or Hispanic Alumni Scholarship or Asian Alumni Scholarship or Fort Bend Alumni Scholarship|
Forestry Wildlife and Fisheries Alumni Scholarship, John W. Red Lehman Forestry Scholarship
Louisiana State University has an exhaustive list of scholarship opportunities, several of which are offered by the alumni association. Scholarships are available from the alumni association for incoming freshmen with high test scores, students with financial need, and departmental scholarships.
Alumni Association Granny Heitz Scholarship Fund” or “Alumni Association Ed Peckham Scholarship Fund
The alumni association of CSU Northridge offers scholarships for legacy, first generation, and graduate students. Scholarships amounts vary between $150 to $2,000.
Medallion Scholarship Program
This scholarship is offered to ASU‘s Dean’s Scholarship recipients and is a renewable, 4-year award in the amount of $3,500.
Regional Alumni Network Scholarship, UC4A Study Abroad Scholarship
The UC Alumni Association offers about 50 students each year more than $100,000 in scholarship awards. Awards are for legacy, need, and a merit based scholarships.
Putnam UMass Scholars Program
This merit-based program offers assistance to exceptional students exhibiting financial need. There are also several presidential scholarships awarded by the university.
Alumni-Sponsored Excellence in Nursing Scholarship, Dan Klatt Memorial Scholarship
There are three separate alumni-sponsored scholarships available on the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh website. One is fraternity related, the second a nursing scholarship, and lastly one awarded to student leaders on campus.
Alumni Society Promise of Tomorrow Scholarship, Alumni Society Larry Wilson Scholarship (career objectives related to non-school-based education), Alumni Society Study Abroad Scholarship
The university offers a scholarship exclusively for students seeking teacher’s licensure, another for students seeking non-education related programs, and a study abroad scholarship.
Alumni Association Scholarship
This scholarship, that has been helping American University students since 1981, is offers $5000 to legacy freshman maintaining a 3.5 average. It is also renewable for a maximum of four years.
Multicultural Alumni Chapter Scholarship, Mary Lou Rechard Memorial Alumni Scholarship, Alumni Association – U.S. Veterans of War
The University of Wyoming offers a great deal of scholarship opportunities sponsored by the alumni association to cater to high school students, U.S. veterans, transfer students, and graduate students. Applications are completed online.
Technology Alumni Scholarship, Hispanic Alumni Scholarship, Asian Alumni Scholarship, Fort Bend Alumni Scholarship
According to their website, The University of Houston Alumni Association has granted over $190,000 in scholarships/scholarship donations this previous year. They offer several scholarships in addition to the ones in bold, which can be found here.