As you look at potential colleges, you'll note that many of them boast about the successes of their graduates. That connection runs both ways, and you can make use of those alumni before, during and after you attend their college. Here's a look at how an alumni network can be of use to you.
The ultimate goal of college is to find a school that will prepare you for the career you want when you're finished. And what better way to gauge a school's ability to do that than by seeing how they've done before? A strong alumni network in your chosen career field can be a great indicator that a school has the opportunities you'll need to follow in those footsteps as well. Assessing who has come before you and what they've gone on to do can help make sense of all the other information you'll gather about each school, offering a sort of testimonial to the education you'd receive there.
Some students mistakenly think that they have to wait until they're out of school and looking for a job to reach out to an alum. Not so! Alumni have walked the same halls, taken the same classes and learned from the same professors. If your career services office offers an alumni mentorship program, take advantage of it and tap into the experience of your predecessors. They can give you the power of hindsight, advising you on how to overcome obstacles or to make productive decisions.
If you're wondering which courses to take next, ask them which ones they chose. If you're considering joining a new club or organization, ask if they have recommendations. Sometimes they'll have leads your school's advisors don't.
Whatever it is that you're planning to do immediately after college — whether it's taking time off, searching for a fellowship or graduate opportunity, or diving into the job market — chances are high that an alumnus from your school has done it before. You're already likely taking tips from your advisors, parents, and friends, so why not also reach out to alumni?
This is especially useful when it comes time to finding an "in" with a particular company — someone who might be willing to show you around, give you some insider tips, or help get your resume to the top of the stack. As the job market continues to grow more competitive, you should likewise continue to use every opportunity to get noticed.
Making the most out of your college experience quite often comes down to seeking every opportunity that's presented to you, and an alumni network is one you definitely do not want to miss out on. If you're looking for more on finding your best-fit school, check out The Princeton Review's college rankings, or talk to one of our admissions experts to help you find your top choices.
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