There is a unique position that First Year Experience (FYE) programs have to develop and maintain good relationships with alumni. It is called collaboration. Since higher education has grown more competitive, our alumni can fill commonly shared goals in strengthening and reassuring freshmen about their institution.
Collaboration should be valued by a First Year Experience (FYE) program.
It can help to assimilate freshmen and build the institution’s image. There is strength in partnerships, so a natural partner for all things Student Affairs is Alumni Relations. Student Affairs and Alumni can therefore collaborate to build successful programs, professionals who possess strong interpersonal skills, consensus building and goodwill ambassadors.
A valuable collaboration is when alumni participate as speakers in forums at Freshmen Assembly. In addition to sharing their successes, they speak to the freshmen in familiar tones about issues such as:
- cafeteria meals
- living in dorms with a new roommate
- possible likes and dislikes
- building friendships
- participating in organizations and clubs
- identifying with professors
Many alumni have found that shared interests, such as business, entrepreneurship, and education can bring a group together and strengthen it. Each fall semester at Lincoln University, the First Year Experience (FYE) program collaborates with the Office of Alumni Relations. They invite successful grads to share their experiences with the First Year class. The format is interesting: four sections per assembly in four different locations on the campus to listen to LU Alumni. This means that each group would have encountered different speakers, at least three, who share informal presentations. In addition to motivational talks and a demonstration of successes beyond the classroom, the Q&A sessions offer important feedback for alumni and freshmen.
“Institutions that respond effectively to student needs and interests build meaningful connections with students, and take seriously student development are most likely to promote alumni loyalty and giving.”
(McAlexander and Koenig, 2001).