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Hang on to Alumni for Help with Enrollment and Retention

Alumni can be great sources of funds, referrals, volunteers, and advocates. However, many small parochial schools have a hard time engaging and keeping track of alumni. It is time consuming to engage and track alumni. For a small school it also taxes their skills, time, and money.

It is usually between 10 and 15 years before an alumnus achieves sufficient success for them to comfortably donate. By that time, many of the school staff members have moved on and the alumni has a decreasing emotional connection. In addition, many of the alumni move out of the area.

For those and other reasons, small schools seldom track alumni.

Obviously, if the alumni would track themselves the problem would solve itself. If the alumni had a reason to stay in touch with the Christian school, they would track themselves.

Each parochial school tries to ensure each alumnus will reach his or her full potential. When that happens and the alumnus believes the school played a formative role in the his or her life, the alumnus will stay in touch with the school. Those alumni return to the school to reconnect with their source of strength.

It is much easier for a student to reach his or her potential with mentors helping them. Through the school’s alumni, faculty, staff, and parents, the school has many potential mentors for each student during each stage of the student’s life.

Connecting the student to a mentor benefits the student and the school:

Mentors enhances the probability the student will succeed and shortens the time required for the student to achieve his or her potential before and after graduation

Mentors strengthen the student – school relationship

Successful students increases the reputation of the school

Families will see the added value of the mentor as their student’s success grows (additional tuition justification)

Withdrawing a child is less likely when a mentor is helping the student achieve success (student retention is higher)

The success of the student and the presence of the mentor provides a meaningful competitive advantage when families are looking for a place to enroll their students

The success of the student and the presence of the mentor provides meaningful and durable evidence that the school is committed to the success of each of its students

The success of the student and the strong connection with the student increases the probability the student will be a generous alumnus, an active referral source, and advocate on behalf of the school

All of that is possible with minimal effort and expense. The primary effort is to find appropriate mentors (proper motivation, right skills, and willing to commit the time).

Next Step:

Start small by recruiting mentors for the bottom 10% of your 2013 graduating class

Refine the process over the summer including a feedback loop so that the mentors keep you informed about the students and their needs

Recruit mentors for your 2014 graduating class (fall of 2012)

Recruit mentors for the entire school during the summer of 2013

Student success and alumni engagement are important to sustainability. If your alumni receive valuable mentoring, they will be more willing to provide mentoring to the next generation. One-on-one face-to-face mentoring is best. However, our current technology sometimes achieves a high level of personal connection when thousands of miles separate the two people.

Providing mentoring for each child takes a long time to produce meaningful, measurable, and durable results. Everyone would prefer a quick solution but quality takes time, commitment, and patience as well as a little coaching from the right person.

You care deeply about your students. Providing each one with a mentor is one more way to show how much your care.

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