After four years (or more!) of college, graduation is a huge milestone. The experience can be bittersweet; You’ve completed hours in the classroom, submitted dozens of term papers, and made incredible friends along the way. While finishing your degree is a terrific accomplishment, leaving campus can be challenging in many ways.
However, you don’t stop being part of the school just because you graduated. As an alumni, you’re still a part of the community, and that entitles you to many perks and special events with fellow alumni that can help you in your post-graduate life.
Here are seven different benefits your alma mater may offer:
1. Career Support
During your career, you’ll likely change jobs multiple times. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that Americans have 12 different jobs over their lifetimes, on average. Whether you’re looking to get a job at a new company to increase your pay or you want to completely switch fields, your alma mater’s career services department can be invaluable to you.
Many schools offer comprehensive job support to alumni, such as career aptitude tests, interview training, and job fairs.
For example, Penn State University’s career services’ department offers LionLink, a professional networking tool alumni can use. It connects students and alumni with volunteer career coaches who provide personalized advice and job coaching. And, its Nittany Lions Career page is an exclusive listing of employment opportunities for alumni.
2. University Library Access
After you graduate, you may find that you still need access to online resources and databases. Whether it’s for work or your own research, those databases can be incredibly useful. However, access to those resources usually requires a membership, and they can be expensive to join. For example, a yearly plan for JSTOR — a database of over 2,000 journals — costs $199 per year.
However, you may be able to skip the fees and still utilize those resources through your school. Universities typically offer library access to their alumni, and you can even access those databases right from your home computer.
At Stanford University, Stanford Alumni Association members can search through thousands of journals, trade publications and newspapers. Alumni can access databases like Project MUSE, ProQuest Newsstand, and Business Source Alumni Edition — all for free.
3. Insurance Policies
Once you start your career, you may find you need to get various insurance policies to protect yourself, your family, and your property. While you can find health insurance coverage on your own, you may be able to get discounted rates through your alumni association. Many colleges partner with major insurance companies to offer group coverage rates.
For instance, the College of New Jersey offers a wide range of discounted insurance products for alumni, including:
- Car insurance
- Renter’s insurance
- Home insurance
- Life insurance
- Long-term care insurance
- Long-term disability
- Pet insurance
- Small business insurance
- Travel insurance
Your school likely partners with companies to offer services and discount codes to alumni. Depending on the university, you could get discounts on car insurance, hotel stays, and even food delivery services. By taking advantage of these special rates, you can save a significant amount of money.
For instance, Drexel University offers many different benefits and services to its alumni. As a graduate of the school, you can get free or discounted access to local museums, lower rates on moving services, and discounts on car rentals.
5. Continued Learning Opportunities
Even after you graduate, it’s important to focus on lifelong learning. Business and technology continually evolve, so it’s a good idea to stay on top of the latest trends.
You may be able to take advantage of continued learning opportunities and professional development through your school’s alumni relations department. Many schools offer in-person or webinars so you can learn graphic design, negotiation skills, non-profit management, and more. These free classes can be a great way to learn a new skill or gain a foundation in a new field of study.
At Harvard University, alumni gain access to hundreds of online courses. Topics range from accounting to Buddhism, and most classes are free for people who graduated from the school.
6. Credit Union Access
As a graduate from your alma mater, you may be eligible to join a credit union that allows alumni to become members. Joining a credit union can be advantageous. Credit unions are non-profit organizations that tend to offer lower interest rates and more favorable repayment terms than traditional banks. If you are shopping for a home mortgage, personal loan, or a new checking account, joining a credit union can be a great idea.
For example, graduates from the College of William & Mary are eligible for membership with the Virginia Credit Union (VCU). VCU members can qualify for low-interest loans and fee-free ATM access.
7. Financial Planning
If you graduated from college are beginning to build your career, you might need some help managing your money and coming up with a plan for your retirement. If that’s the case, your alumni center can help. Some schools offer financial planning, estate planning, and even student loan management courses to start young alumni off on the right foot.
At Northeastern University, alumni can take advantage of BetterMoneyHabits, an online financial education course that can help you create a budget, pay down debt, and plan for future goals. Alumni have access to an online estate planning course, complete with strategies for fulfilling your financial goals.
Utilizing Your Alumni Benefits
As a graduate, you spent a significant amount of time (and money) on your alma mater. However, the school can repay you long after you leave campus. If you need help with your career, continued education, or finances, remember to contact your former university first for help; you could qualify for free or discounted services. To find out what benefits your school offers, contact the university’s alumni relations department.
If you have student loan debt and your school can’t help you, another option is student loan refinancing. By refinancing your education loans, you can lower your interest rate and save money, allowing you to pay off your debt early. With Earnest, you can get a rate quote in as little as two minutes without damaging your credit score.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the interview subjects are not necessarily those of Earnest.