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Partnering with Alumni for Admissions & Enrollment Success
Connor Gleason

When schools think about improving enrollment, they often overlook a powerful group: their alumni. Alumni offer a genuine and personal perspective on what makes your school special, but they can share their experiences in a way that brochures and social ads can’t.

Graduates show the world what a school can do by living successful, interesting lives, and when they reminisce about their school days, they’re showing potential students and their families what’s possible.

They’ve been through it and can share real-life stories that potential students and their families want to hear. By identifying these key players and leveraging their enthusiasm and experience, your school can increase student enrollment and create a community where past, present, and future students feel connected and supported. 

The Power of Alumni in the Admissions Process

An alumni ambassador program is a special group of past students who are excited to share their school stories and experiences with new families who might be thinking about joining the school.

People tend to trust personal recommendations over ads (88% by one report), and if a family hears good things about a school from someone they know and respect, alumni can make them feel welcome and connected right from the start. 

But even the most loyal alumni might need some help knowing the best way to discuss your school. Hold a training session to cover:

  • Key points about what makes your school special (today)
  • Updates on new programs, extracurricular activities, or improvements at the school
  • Tips on how to talk to potential students and their families in a helpful and positive way

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The Impact of Alumni Profiles and Success Stories on Enrollment

When families are looking for the right school, they want to hear real stories from people who have been there, and that's where alumni quotes and success stories come in. Here's how to make the most of these stories to help with enrollment.

Collecting Stories

Start by gathering stories from your alumni. You want a mix of different experiences that show all the paths students can take after they graduate. Here are some tips:

  • Reach Out to Alumni: Use social media, emails, and school events to ask past students to share their stories. Make it easy for them by providing a simple form or a quick way to get in touch.
  • Look for Variety: Try to get stories from people who have entered different careers, who had different experiences at school, and who come from various backgrounds.

Making Alumni Stories Relatable

When sharing these stories, make sure they connect back to what students will experience at your school. Here are some ideas:

  • Share their Journey: Have alumni discuss how the school helped them get where they are now. This could be a teacher who inspired them, a club that gave them confidence, or a class that sparked a passion.
  • Highlight the Community: Many alumni value the friendships and connections they made at school. Stories that highlight these relationships can show prospective families the strong community they could be joining.
  • Show Real Success: Use stories that show real achievements, like starting a business, doing important research, or making a difference in the community. This shows that attending your school can lead to great things.
Alumni stories on mobile mockup

Alumni stories, like those featured on Wooster School’s site, are key tools in your enrollment strategy because they give prospective families a glimpse into the future. When families can see how past students have grown and succeeded, they start imagining their child doing the same. 

Boosting School Enrollment with Alumni Involvement in School Events

When families are thinking about which school is right for their child, meeting someone who's been through it all before can be a huge help. Having alumni at your events shows prospective families that your school builds lasting relationships and that graduates feel strongly enough about their experience to come back and share it.

Mark Day School Alumni panel

An alumni panel is featured on the lineup of Mark Day School's admissions events. Registrants can easily register through Finalsite Enrollment, and attend the Q&A to learn more about their experiences.

Choosing the Right Alumni to Attract New Students

By carefully selecting and preparing your alumni—not all alumni will be a good fit for every event. Choose people who:

  • Represent the diversity and values of your school
  • Are excited to discuss their time at the school and how it shaped them
  • Well-spoken, presentable, and relates well to potential students and their families

Involving Alumni in Admission Events

Involving alumni in school events and open houses is a powerful way to connect with prospective students and their families. It brings your school's benefits to life in a relatable way that facts and figures can't match. Here are a few ways to involve alumni in your events:

  • One-on-One Conversations: Sometimes, students and parents have specific questions or concerns. Having alumni available for one-on-one chats over the phone or on Zoom can be helpful.
  • Tours: Alumni can lead tours around the school, mention their favorite spots, and share personal stories along the way.
  • Panel Discussions: Have a group of alumni discuss their experiences and take questions from the audience, just like AIM Academy organized for its virtual panel.
AIM alumni panel signup

Preparing Alumni for Events

Before the event, make sure your alumni know what to expect and how they can help. Here are some tips:

  • Give Them a Briefing: Provide information about the event, who will be attending, and what questions they might be asked. Also, let them know about any new programs, traditions, or changes at the school since they graduated—there might be a lot!
  • Share Key Messages: While you want alumni to share their genuine experiences, it's also good to align on key messages about the school's strengths and what makes it unique.
Charlotte Country Day school admission page on a mobile device

Charlotte Country Day School welcomes its alumni and graduates back to campus to volunteer and participate in various ways, including student engagement. With a branded online form, alumni can easily sign up to express their interest.

Supporting Enrollment Through Alumni Networking and Referral Programs

Schools are always looking for ways to connect with new families and get them interested in becoming a part of their community. By setting up a referral program and encouraging alumni to introduce new families to the school, everyone wins.

SYA admissions ambassadors screenshot

The admissions office of School Year Abroad (SYA) welcomes graduates as admissions ambassadors to represent their programs across the world, connect globally-minded students, and inform them about the SYA experience.

Setting Up a Referral Program

A referral program is a way to encourage past students to tell potential students and their families about the school. If the new family decides to enroll, the alumni who referred them might get a thank-you gift or some other kind of reward. Here's how to start:

  • Decide on the Rewards: Consider what kind of thank you would mean a lot to your alumni. It could be as simple as a gift card, a swag bag, or special seating for an event at your school.
  • Make It Easy to Refer: Give your alumni simple tools to share their love for the school. This could be a digital brochure, a link shared over social media, or an online form, like how Wayland Academy collects referrals to its admissions office.
Wayland Academy refer a student screenshot on mobile deivce

Keeping Alumni Engaged

Keep your alumni up-to-date on what's happening at the school. Regular updates, either through newsletters, social media, or a portal on your school's website, can help them feel connected and informed. This way, when they become part of your referral program or when they talk to potential families, they have the latest information.

Key Takeaway

Alumni networking and referral programs are a great way for schools to attract and retain students. By making it easy and rewarding for alumni to refer new students, schools can tap into a powerful resource and continue to grow their communities.

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Connor Gleason Headshot


Connor has spent the last decade within the field of marketing and communications, working with independent schools and colleges throughout New England. As Finalsite’s Senior Content Marketing Manager, Connor plans and executes marketing strategies and digital content across the web. A former photojournalist, he has a passion for digital media, storytelling, coffee, and creating content that connects.

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