Why do people care so much about their alma mater?

When I graduate, why should I care about my alma mater to the point where I donate or help out kids from there?

I don't see myself going out of my way to help kids just because they happened to go to the same school as me. I don't feel like I owe the school anything after paying so much in tuition either. I like to help people out in general, but I just don't have some special connection to my school.

Apologies if this comes off as ignorant; just never really understood it.

Comments (37)

Mar 31, 2018

And students are surprised why alumni feel the same sentiment

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Mar 31, 2018

I'm still in college but did you go to a school with a strong sense of school spirit? My first summer living on my own me and one of my other roommates went to big sports schools and the two others went to schools with very weak culture. They thought it was so odd that me and our other roommate wore school apparel, and kept up with our schools sports and really actually liked our schools. They saw college as just a place to go for 4 years and get a degree and leave. I'd would imagine those two types of schools would make alumni with a big difference in how much their care about their school/helping current students at their school

Mar 31, 2018

My alma mater is known to have an extremely strong school spirit that's so contagious that even if you didn't like the school coming in, you will have at least some sort of soft spot for it upon leaving after four years.

I totally relate to what you're saying.

Apr 2, 2018

Did you go to Notre Dame?

Best Response
Mar 31, 2018

QNA: Per your question "why should I care about my alma mater .....?"

Personally, I was/am very proud of my alma mater, but when I graduated, I had ~ $60k in student loan debt. By the time I paid it in full, I'd paid a total of right at $90k. I feel absolutely zero responsibility to support the school monetarily.

I do believe many people support their alma mater in a number of ways because it is a good way to network. And, depending on the institution, it can look good on a resume' to show you're actively involved in various charitable efforts to help those following in your footsteps.

You don't sound ignorant at all. I may get MS tossed at me for not feeling more generous/benevolent, but when I choose to give money or other support to an organization, I want that money to be used in the community in which I live, not to a college that I attended 20 years ago. Like you, I never really understood it either.

Lastly, I find it hard to justify giving to a school when I do NOT agree with a number of their social positions. What is happening on college campuses across the country is a travesty. I refuse to support these bastions of progressive ideology.

Apr 1, 2018

Same feeling about my school here. Everytime I visit their Facebook page, I see some "Social Justice" type event going on. I refuse to give a dime to this place unless they invite speakers from all political spectrums.

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Aug 16, 2019

Same. Some nutjob professor at my university opined that the world would be better if all white men were dead. No disciplinary action = no donations ever from me. Higher education in the US has been completely subverted by leftist Marxism.

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Mar 31, 2018

I think it's less about you doing it for the school and more helping out the kids who had to go through the same challenges as you. For example, the kid who's reaching out is likely also having to deal with the tuition costs, debt, etc. This is amplified for non-targets. Not only do they have to deal with the tuition but also the lack of BB presence at the career fairs.

The kids who reach out and mention the school they know you went to are just trying to establish common ground so you're more comfortable talking with them. Of course, you don't have to help them, but maybe even forwarding them over to someone who is willing to talk with them is the least you could do.

It's a competitive process no matter what school you go to so getting a leg up in any way you can is crucial. Yes, it's true the kid messaging you on LinkedIn is "taking advantage" in a way. That may bother some people but most understand it's just business and simply part of the process. They truly need someone to go to bat for them because they don't have Harvard University on their resume.

Does it blow complete asshole for both of you? Absolutely. You have better things to do than talk to some college kid during your workday. Might sound harsh but let's be honest, it's the truth. The other side of the coin is the kid who feels uncomfortable as hell because he knows he's interrupting your workday to essentially just shoot the shit enough until you like him and hopefully pass his name along so HR looks at his resume. Again, it sucks but that's how the system operates now.

I know you haven't graduated yet. I'm just speaking in general.

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Apr 1, 2018

BDWK:

I have no issues with helping those students who came after me at my alma mater, or anywhere else for that matter. However, you mention issues such as tuition costs, debt, etc. Giving funds to my alma mater has never been a priority for me simply b/c the money sent to these schools is NOT used to help support needy students. These funds are used to support expanding the campus, providing funding for speaking engagements (many of which I strongly disagree with) and the associated cost for police presence, campus beautification projects, slush funds for pet projects, etc. etc. etc.

I have tried to give back in other ways. In fact, I attempted to start an alma mater chapter in my current location, to no avail. Apparently there were not enough people in this area to support the chapter. Additionally, I've also gone back to the campus to recruit during career-fair week.

Not sure who your post was directed to, but I graduated in '98. I did the career fair thing from about 2001 - 2004 (or 2005, can't recall which). I provided my biz card to young people whom I could tell were serious about their career, and a few kept in touch for several years after graduation, as I had a few years on them both academically/career-wise, and chronologically.

Got off on a tangent, but helping young people develop their career does not "blow asshole" to me. I well-remember a few key people during my younger years whose advice was crucial in my decision-making process. I felt compelled to "pay it forward." To get further off on a tangent, it's the same issue my bride and I have agreed to many years ago with regards to going out for a meal.

We both worked in the service industry while I was in college. I tended bar and worked for a catering company and my bride waited tables and catered at the same place as I. We survived off of our tips. We made a pledge that we would always be superior tippers as we viscerally understand how hard that work is, and we understand the fact that most of them make 1/2 of minimum wage + tips.

Lastly, at my previous employer, I served as a mentor to new employees for nearly 10 years. Again, doing this was a way for me to do what I could to give back. I would typically get 2 - 3 mentees during summer intern programs, and I would also be assigned at least 1 mentee/year once they got hired.

All that said, there are many ways to give back to those who come after us. Blindly sending cash to an organization with no accountability is not conducive to spending my hard-earned money wisely.

Apr 1, 2018

Post was directed to OP. I am in agreement with all of your original points. I was more sharing my points on why it's important to speak on the phone/network with students who reach out. I agree on all points regarding donations to the school. I will likely not be donating to my alma mater.

Apr 1, 2018
dm100:

BDWK:

I have no issues with helping those students who came after me at my alma mater, or anywhere else for that matter. However, you mention issues such as tuition costs, debt, etc. Giving funds to my alma mater has never been a priority for me simply b/c the money sent to these schools is NOT used to help support needy students. These funds are used to support expanding the campus, providing funding for speaking engagements (many of which I strongly disagree with) and the associated cost for police presence, campus beautification projects, slush funds for pet projects, etc. etc. etc.

I have tried to give back in other ways. In fact, I attempted to start an alma mater chapter in my current location, to no avail. Apparently there were not enough people in this area to support the chapter. Additionally, I've also gone back to the campus to recruit during career-fair week.

Not sure who your post was directed to, but I graduated in '98. I did the career fair thing from about 2001 - 2004 (or 2005, can't recall which). I provided my biz card to young people whom I could tell were serious about their career, and a few kept in touch for several years after graduation, as I had a few years on them both academically/career-wise, and chronologically.

Got off on a tangent, but helping young people develop their career does not "blow asshole" to me. I well-remember a few key people during my younger years whose advice was crucial in my decision-making process. I felt compelled to "pay it forward." To get further off on a tangent, it's the same issue my bride and I have agreed to many years ago with regards to going out for a meal.

We both worked in the service industry while I was in college. I tended bar and worked for a catering company and my bride waited tables and catered at the same place as I. We survived off of our tips. We made a pledge that we would always be superior tippers as we viscerally understand how hard that work is, and we understand the fact that most of them make 1/2 of minimum wage + tips.

Lastly, at my previous employer, I served as a mentor to new employees for nearly 10 years. Again, doing this was a way for me to do what I could to give back. I would typically get 2 - 3 mentees during summer intern programs, and I would also be assigned at least 1 mentee/year once they got hired.

All that said, there are many ways to give back to those who come after us. Blindly sending cash to an organization with no accountability is not conducive to spending my hard-earned money wisely.

You know that you can specify what your donation should be used for, right?

Array

Apr 3, 2018

@dm100 @dm100 @QuestionsNeedAnswers Totally agree with you guys on pretty much everything. I would just also add that there is an opportunity cost here as well. Even if the money does go to some struggling kid from your college, what is the opportunity cost? Could you have sent that money to St. Jude instead to help a kid with cancer?

Kids living in the United States of America with access to limitless student loans are not very high on my list of needy individuals in this world. Does high tuition suck? Yes, it does suck but compared what?

Mar 31, 2018

Two things:

1). It's a coming of age time in most peoples lives. So the experiences at university are important and the shared experience creates that connection.

2). A lot of self selection into specific schools. Maybe 70-75% pick a school for a specific reason and 25% attend because it's the best ranked school they got into. You went to Notre Dame - there's a lot of shared catholic heritage and similar backgrounds despite growing up all over the country. MIT probably a bit dorkier than most and into science a ton. Those two stand out but a lot of schools have some connection like that where the school naturally recruits a lot of like-minded people.

Array
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Mar 31, 2018

I am not at the stage where I can help students yet, however I think that I certainly will in 2-3 years from now.

The main motivating factor for me is the staff, specifically my Vice Course Director, who I have an amazing relationship with. So, if I were in any kind of position to potentially help any of their future students (however they must have attended my MSc. or recommended by x person) then I wouldn't hesitate. Though I'm still completing my graduate studies, I have already received a ton of help and support, which the Vice Course Director really had no obligation to extend. My university has also been very kind and accepting, thus for me it would be a way of returning said kindness. Your MSc stays with you for life, and the fact that they can recognise that, and go out of their way to assist me in making sure I truly make the most out of it, is truly touching. My gratitude only grows even further, when you compound everything with the fact that my Vice Course Director is pretty much glued to their office because of unfeasible workloads.

So I think for those that truly care, it comes down to a deep personal relationship not with the institution, but rather the people behind it.

Mar 31, 2018

I got IB internships my freshman and sophomore summers because the two MD alumni of the high school and college I attended took a chance on me mainly because they could relate to what I had gone through when they were at my high school and at my college. Because of those experiences, I was able to get an FT IB analyst role.

Now I just want to do the same for people who went to the same high school and/or college as me. I hope the people I help can do the same thing, and the cycle continues...

Apr 1, 2018

Generally people look for similarities in others (nationality, languages and by extension even common unis) so it makes sense that some may like this. I personally like to help anyone from any university if I can. And the school spirit thing plays in too

Apr 1, 2018

.

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Apr 1, 2018

I will probably never donate to my alma mater, but a lot of alumni helped me through recruiting, and so I now return the favor with current students. I think most people are in a similar boat.

Apr 1, 2018

I attended an ivy and don't particularly care about my alma mater

However, I am a bit partial to those that attended a competitive undergrad, all else equal. Misery loves company

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Apr 2, 2018

I have huge pride for my alma mater.

I get if people are only a little partial to the school they went to (had a good experience but didn't totally buy into the spirit, etc.), but I honestly find it weird when someone has zero affinity to their alma mater.

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Apr 2, 2018

Feel somewhat similar. Always love helping people in my school, but no chance in hell I'm donating a dime to them in the future when I pay full tuition just so they can keep knocking down and building new shit to have a pretty campus. Thinking back to a @bankerella thread when she was asked to donate to her school (I'm paraphrasing here), "of course x university has my gratitude. They also have $250k of my money. I believe this concludes our business"

Apr 2, 2018

I guess ill take the contrarian point here to the OPs position here. For me tuition is just that, room/board and the classes you take, all of the other non-school shit is intangible, which is what in my mind I donate toward.

In my case I had a great time at my school, met all of my current friends, met my current gf, went to the gym for free, and was able to continue to use the library/internet to teach myself finance and apply for jobs when I was struggling after undergrad. That extra shit is why I give back, if it's to buy new computers for the library, or as someone else alluded to "tear down old buildings just to make new shit," really whatever the reason, I'm paying so that hopefully someone else gets a shot at those intangibles that I had. If you didn't have a great time during your 4+years I guess I could understand why you wouldn't want to give back, but for me personally, school was way more than just education, as I'm sure that it was for a lot of other people on here as well.

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Apr 2, 2018

My school is not hurting for money for sure. So while I do not write checks to the university I would be remiss to disregard the impact it has had on my life both as a student and as an alum. The recognition of the school landed me countless interview opportunities coming out of undergrad and later in life when I switched careers entirely the university was still a strong and supportive network that I took advantage of.

I go back to my school once a year to speak and volunteer with a couple different committees throughout the year. There are some great old school bars by the campus still open and when you walk in on a Saturday afternoon you often see multi-generations of graduates sitting at a table (a son/daughter, parent(s), and a grandparent) and that's something we all get a great amount of enjoyment from.

Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.

Apr 2, 2018
3200fps:

The recognition of the school landed me countless interview opportunities coming out of undergrad and later in life when I switched careers entirely the university was still a strong and supportive network that I took advantage of.

How did you take advantage of the university later in life?

Apr 2, 2018
Entrepreneur Hero:
3200fps:

The recognition of the school landed me countless interview opportunities coming out of undergrad and later in life when I switched careers entirely the university was still a strong and supportive network that I took advantage of.

How did you take advantage of the university later in life?

I'm an engineer by trade (B.S. and M.S. from the university) and decided to leave engineering and start a non-engineering business (8 years post undergrad). I reached out to the alum group for the business school and was very quickly guided to some very solid SME's in the area I was considering and was able to consult with them. I was introduced to others and eventually found a partner (finance). Could I have achieved this without the university? Probably so but it sure made it easier.

Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.

Apr 2, 2018

VERITAS BABY

What concert costs 45 cents? 50 Cent feat. Nickelback.

Apr 3, 2018

It's part of the game. Universities have become such money making machines and the only reason they are raising their fees is because the government allows students to take on more debt, and because they know they will keep on making money from donations. Professors don't get paid that well, but the admin costs and useless bureaucrats are swelling the universities' rank. I won't even go into SJW jobs that are being offered and mixed gender bathrooms that are being subsidised by your donations. The system is rotten and needs to change, a funding crisis for one would be welcome.

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Apr 3, 2018

To me, it's really a pay-it-forward philosophy. Most of the serious internships and full-time jobs I've gotten so far have been through networking with my school's alumni. Because of that, I do feel a strong sense of responsibility to help students in my alma mater who have been in my shoes before because I know what it's like to feel confused, clueless, and overwhelmed.

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Apr 3, 2018

I give back to my university (both undergrad and grad) and the students that come from it for three real reasons.

1) The school brand reflects on me

When new grads from my university are successful, it is evidence for the school's high ranking. I want the school to continue to be ranked highly because this keeps my brand high as well. I paid for the brand and the network. "Why do all these x kids work at ? the school must not be very good" isn't something I want to hear. I want x grads on my team. I want them to get promotions. I want us all to be super successful and all help each other. For the money aspect, % of alumni that donate goes into a lot of rankings. If $20 will help then I'm cool with throwing in a 20 every year. There were a ton of fantastic programs at both of my schools. Some shitty ones too but oh well.

2) My personal brand

People talk - A LOT. If you're currently a student and ask an alum for a coffee chat and then blow them off, you can bet 100% that their 10 closest alum friends will hear about it with the full name and LinkedIn profile passed around. I give a lot of time to my mentees and they've expressed a lot of thanks. I wouldn't be shocked if they mentioned this to other people. I think it's nice to be known as a helpful alum. This one is sort of throwing random good karma into a smaller version (i.e. just the alum pool) of the universe.

3) I enjoy helping people

Full disclosure: I don't give a LOT and I don't help a LOT. I give a bit of my time and money. It's really not that difficult. We'll see if I keep it up when I'm 50.

I totally get people that don't want to donate their time or money. I really get it and respect the thought. But I do hope you didn't go to either of my schools because of pt. 1 above.

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Apr 3, 2018
engineertoM7:

I enjoy helping people

It is scientifically proven that you get more satisfaction from giving help than receiving help.

Apr 3, 2018

As students from your alma mater go out into the workforce and (hopefully) do well, that enhances your school's reputation and increases the value of your degree. That's how I see it working.

Apr 3, 2018

(most) Alumni think like players on the same sports team. That's why the majority are willing to help out. Reputation is never finished, it's constantly developing, and it gets boosted up each time an institution produces another successful graduate. Old grads help new ones because bolstering the rep helps everyone.

Apr 4, 2018
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Aug 16, 2019