Consider an Online Degree Program’s Alumni Services in 2018

In a strong alumni network, graduates may share internship opportunities with current students online. (PeopleImages/Getty Images)

As students determine which online degree program is the best fit for them, researching the available support services is essential.

With the growth of online learning, more programs invest in resources and staffing for enrolled students. But it’s also important for prospective online students to consider the support and guidance they will receive after graduation.

For online students, the merits of a school’s alumni association may not always factor into their selection process. However, having access to a quality post-graduate support system can make all the difference as students embark on a career and look to maximize their newly earned degree or certificate. These resources can be critical to developing their social and professional networks.

[Learn how to build a campus network as an online student.]

At Arizona State University’s ASU Online, for example, we currently have active and engaged alumni chapters in more than 40 U.S. cities and 35 countries, allowing students to make meaningful connections with graduates around the world.

There are a few factors to weigh when looking at an online degree program’s alumni services. Specifically, many online programs offer career development services and mentorship opportunities for recent graduates.

Graduates and members of our alumni association are encouraged to share their professional experiences with current students by attending organized events across the country and connecting online and through social media. They lend their perspective on what challenges and opportunities may lie ahead in the job search process and workplace. This networking is particularly important for online students as many of them want to change or advance their careers.

A strong alumni network also often provides recent graduates with potential internship opportunities and information about industry-specific networking opportunities near their home base. In some cases, alumni recommend recent grads to employers recruiting new talent, which can be mutually beneficial. Some schools offer a formal portal or job board where alumni can share opportunities for recent online graduates in specific fields.

The importance of networking to a student’s overall professional network is not a new concept, but over the past several years the rise of social media has made it more interesting. While online students may not be able to attend on-campus career fairs, social media allows them to meet, connect and engage with peers, industry leaders and employers virtually.

[Discover how online students use social media.]

Often, online students can identify and connect with alumni through these platforms and take advantage of their expertise for post-graduate needs such as resume writing tips, details on job fairs and recruiting events, and other skill sets that may be helpful in the job search. This can make all the difference as an online graduate is trying to find a new job or move up at their current one.

The takeaway: Assess and take advantage of an alumni network and the services available to graduates. This resource can help online students as they progress in their careers. Consider your long-term objectives and how they can benefit from robust alumni programs.