Creating a “Homecoming” for an Online University

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After working for an online university, a continuing education college, and now pursuing my MBA 100% online, the idea of how you stay connected to alumni came to mind. Specifically, how do you create a connection for alumni of an online university? They have no memories of famous campus landmarks like the old “Oak Tree” or the infamous cafeteria food. They may have never met a single living and breathing person at their online university. What to do?

My plan for an online university is for them to become branded and identified as the lifelong learning magnet for their alumni and lay out a strategic 5 year continuing education plan for them. Each year would focus upon a core competency of the online university, sharpen the skills the alumni learned from the university, and re-enforce in their minds how cutting edge their university continues to be present day.

The Return on Investment for the university is:

  • Further engage alumni in their university for future financial investments
  • Become the primary place alumni seek continuing education credits in their respective fields.
  • Become the primary resource of further degrees for alumni.
  • Provide an easy tool for them to refer others to the university.
  • Highlight the current successes and academic gains of the university.

The burden will be upon University administrators to plan, market, promote, and create a social media “buzz” about the new 5 year Alumni Continuing Education Plan. The University will strategically lay out the 5 year Continuing Education schedule (highlighting each annual focus) for the development of their alumni and how the university will make it financially affordable for them to participate.

Each year would have an academic theme. What the university would provide each year for alumni:

  • Offering discount tickets to cutting edge conferences in the academic area. This would allow the university to cross brand with a popular conference.
  • Hold alumni dinners at the cutting edge conference. Honor as many alumni as possible promoting their success following graduation.
  • Provide direction in how alumni can become brand ambassadors for the university highlighting their experiences at the conferences and how the continuing education plan is benefiting their career.
  • Have the university become one of the sponsors of the cutting-edge conferences with a stipulation one of the popular university professors is a speaker or panelist.

The ideas are endless on how to further connect alumni who may have never met someone in the flesh following their online experience. This plan creates a WIN/WIN for the university, professors, alumni, and prospective students.

What are your thoughts and ideas???

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