Alumni as a Recruitment Tool 

A couple of weeks ago, Andrew Careaga had a great blog post on leveraging “tradition” as a recruitment tool, and it got me thinking about some other ways that institutions could and should leverage their unique assets to recruit students. One popular approach is share your success stories.

Organizations are often judged by the company they keep, which is why companies are always quick to tout their work and case studies with high-profile organizations in their industry. Likewise, institutions seldom shy away from associating with the accomplishments of their alumni. What’s interesting are the different approaches that institutions take to share their alumni success stories.

Ideas range from simply posting long lists of very distinguished alumni on your website, to having alumni call prospective students to seeking testimonials from famous alumni.

One of the best testimonials I’ve come across is from filmmaker Ken Burns on his experience at Hampshire College:

“Hampshire College is a perfect American place. If we look back at the history of our country, the things we celebrate were outside of the mainstream. Much of the world operated under a tyrannical model, but Americans said, ‘We will govern ourselves.’ So, too, Hampshire asked, at its founding, the difficult questions of how we might educate ourselves… When I entered Hampshire, I found it to be the most exciting place on earth.”

Now, if you were a student who admired the work of Ken Burns and perhaps were also interested in pursuing a career in filmmaking, wouldn’t Hampshire be on your shortlist? I bet it would be after reading that kind of a statement.

Some schools take things a step further by not only encouraging alumni testimonials, but broadcasting them to the world.  UPENN has some very cool spots on YouTube like this one with the man, the myth…

However, an alumnus does not necessarily have to be famous to impact your recruitment efforts.  It can be as simple as having ordinary people tell of their extraordinary accomplishments.  In the for-profit sector, The University of Phoenix’s “I am a Phoenix” campaign does a great job of telling the stories of its graduates.  

It’s human nature to want to be associated with success.  So why not share your success stories with the world?  

What have your alumni accomplished after spending time at your institution?   What are you doing to let the world know? How can you make those success stories stand out?