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Why every university needs networking and mentorship – benefits for alumni, staff, and students

Updated: Jun 7

Beautiful gothic university building on green lawn with blue skies and no students sitting on the quadrangle

Networking and mentorship programs enhance the success, growth, and reputation of universities. While many universities offer mentorship programs for students, they overlook the incredible potential that networking and mentoring programs have for their other constituents: alumni and staff.

As a result, most universities run ineffective networking and mentorship programs because they do not serve the entire university community. Without providing alumni networking and mentorship opportunities, universities turn down important opportunities for alumni engagement and giving. Universities also overlook opportunities to foster stronger leaders within the institution, including university presidents.

Networking and mentoring for alumni

Alumni networking and mentoring opportunities are essential to increase alumni satisfaction, engagement, and giving. 

Leaders in higher education such as the University of Pennsylvania, Northwestern University, Ball State University, and Temple University are already leveraging alumni networking and mentorship programs to support alumni, drive engagement, and discover opportunities for alumni giving.

Graphic showing that mentorship drives alumni giving

Building strong alumni networks is imperative for building strong university communities. Mentorship programs, particularly through mentorship platforms, provide a single, self-sustaining ecosystem for alumni networking. Alumni can join mentoring sub-communities specific to their industries, interests, or affinity groups, building even stronger alumni networks within networks.

Education does not stop with matriculation. Mentorship provides alumni with upskilling opportunities at any stage of their career, fostering a community of life-long learners, and extending the capacity of university career services. Mentees, whether new graduates or seasoned alumni, can gain industry insights, whether in their current field of expertise, or as they explore career transitions and new opportunities.

Expanding available networks will allow alumni to opt for traditional mentoring, peer-to-peer connections, and reverse mentoring they would not normally have access to in traditional social media settings.

Seasoned alumni can even benefit from reverse mentoring relationships with recent graduates in order to help close generational gaps. These unique mentorships can help participants overcome differences in background and lived experience to expand their cultural understanding and awareness.

Engage alumni more deeply

Alumni engagement can be deepened through mentorship programs that invite alumni to share their expertise and experiences. This involvement not only benefits current students but also fosters a sense of loyalty and connection among alumni, encouraging them to contribute more actively to their alma mater.

Convert Development Leads

Effective alumni engagement through mentorship can lead to increased donations and financial support for the university. Alumni who feel connected and valued are more likely to contribute financially, seeing their contributions as investments in future generations.

Promote positive associations By providing valuable networking opportunities and mentorship, universities can enhance their reputation. Success stories of student and alumni achievements create positive associations for those outside the institution, attracting prospective students and faculty, as well as those who are already a part of the community. Every networking mentorship session that members of your community complete, every virtual event they attend, or every story they share on the platform or off will create positive associations with your institution.

Reinforce impact Mentorship and networking programs demonstrate the university's commitment to student success, reinforcing the impact of its educational offerings. These programs show tangible results in career advancement and personal development, showcasing the institution's value. Mentors engaged with traditional or reverse mentorships with current students will be constantly reminded of the incredible impact your institution has right now on the lives of tomorrow’s leaders.

Create better leaders Mentorship empowers leaders and organizations to be their best through a holistic approach to improvement. When members of your community upskill through networking and mentorship, they can more quickly accelerate their personal and professional growth. When they attribute their success to your institution, they are more likely to give back. 

Extend Career Services

Networking and mentorship initiatives complement traditional career services by providing ongoing support and personalized guidance. These programs can help both alumni and students navigate the job market, make informed career decisions, and secure employment more effectively.

Create CommunitiesNetworking and mentorship programs help build vibrant, supportive communities within the university. These communities foster a sense of belonging and collaboration, enhancing the overall student and alumni experience, particularly when growing communities among particular industries, graduation years, geographical regions, affinity groups, or other attributes.

Add Value to Tuition The additional support and opportunities provided by networking and mentorship programs add significant value to the cost of tuition. Prospective students and their families see these programs as a worthwhile investment in the student’s future career and personal growth. Alumni can rest assured that their education does not end with matriculation. Joining your University’s networking and mentorship program ensures they have life-long opportunities for learning and growth at no additional cost.

Networking and mentorship for staff

For university faculty and administrators, particularly at the executive level, networking and mentorship programs facilitate knowledge transfer, promote personal and leadership development, encourage diverse perspectives, and create a culture of continuous learning and improvement. Faculty with mentors, including junior faculty seeking tenure, can optimize teaching, research, and career planning. Mentors to faculty can also help their mentees adapt to the unique culture of their particular institution.

100% of participants recommend staff mentoring at West Chester University

At West Chester University, the Faculty Mentoring Program increased faculty satisfaction, retention, tenure, and promotion, and 100% of participants recommend the program to colleagues and the majority want the program to become a standard part of the University’s culture. (Source)

Administrators can benefit from mentorship as well, within departments and divisions, or at the executive level. Several studies have shown that university presidents and administrators seeking executive roles, need mentorship in order to meet the challenges they face in their complex roles.

In particular, mentorship has benefits for women and BIPOC university presidents, according to several studies. (Source, Source) Mentorship is proven to be beneficial in cultivating presidents of community colleges. (Source)At West Chester University, the to colleagues and the majority want the 

Mentoring for students

Mentorship transforms today’s students into tomorrow’s leaders, and benefits them during their academic journey, as they transition into the professional world, and throughout their careers.

Mentors provide valuable guidance and support to students, helping them navigate academic challenges, career choices, and personal development. Through mentorship, students can also expand their professional networks and develop connections that could assist with internship, job, or graduate school placement. Mentors can also help students develop specific skills, whether technical skills related to their field of study or soft skills like communication and leadership.

Because every mentor-mentee relationship is unique, so are the goals and benefits of every mentorship. The data is clear, however, from decades of studies, that students enrolled in mentorship programs achieve higher academic success rates and are better equipped to accelerate after graduation.

Graphic about mentorship and student academic success

Matriculation Rates

Students in mentorship programs are 14% more likely to stay in school, and 13% more likely to matriculate in 4 years. (Source, National Bureau of Economic Research). Mentorship increases matriculation rates so powerfully that the U.S. Department of Education recommends formalized mentorship programs, especially for at-risk students. (Source)

Graph shoeing students with mentors are up to 2x more liekly to end the year in good academic standing

Improved Grades

Students with mentors have, on average, higher GPAs all and within their majors, and are up to 2x more likely to end the year in good academic standing, according to a study done of a mentorship program at the University of Windsor. (Source)

Job Placement

A study published in the International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching in Education shows mentees had higher job-search self-efficacy compared to students not enrolled in mentorship programs, and benefited from networking opportunities, improving resumes and interview skills, understanding the workplace and career options, and receiving psychosocial support from their mentor. (Source)

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Mentorship provides students with all backgrounds the support they need to fulfill their potential, and helps Universities meet diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

Mentorship has incredible potential to assist students with disabilities, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and mental health conditions. Mentees with ASD report more success in achieving personal goals and mentorship programs help better inform support systems for students (Source)

Numerous studies have shown that mentorship is essential to help students from other historically marginalized groups, including Black / African-American men (Source), Latinx communities (Source), and American Indians (Source), as well as students from other underrepresented communities.

First generation college students

Mentorship can be especially important to help first-generation college students achieve success, according to LinkedIn. (Source) When mentees are paired with the perfect mentor, shared experience and understanding can help students navigate academic and social challenges, setting them up for success.

Networking and mentoring as a part of your University’s culture

For university networking and mentoring programs to be effective, impactful, and beneficial to both the university and its people, they need to be a part of the institution’s culture. Though many universities have mentorship programs, most focus on mentoring current students. However, students represent only one third of the university's overall constituents therefore, these programs ignore the needs of the other two thirds who can benefit: alumni and staff.

Most university networking and mentorship programs don’t meet their people where they are: connecting is difficult for program participants, and because administrators rely on arcane spreadsheets or even pen and paper.

To create a self-sustaining ecosystem of networking and mentorship, universities need a single platform that can be instantly implemented, instantly adopted, and that practically runs itself.

With Upnotch™ alumni, students, and staff can connect anywhere in the world on any device. Members of your community can join and connect within minutes, ensuring easy user adoption so that your networks can quickly scale. Administrators can build and optimize your networking and mentorship programs quickly and easily using an intuitive, all-in-one platform and take a fully hands-off, or more hands-on approach.

Upnotch™ features intuitive dashboards that allow universities to quickly generate reports on individual mentors, mentees, session counts, programs, and more. Administrators can also opt to receive automated email reports for continuous monitoring of program analytics.

Upnotch™ also provides resources to help train your program participants, as well as your administrators so that you can effortlessly launch, grow, and optimize your program.

Contact Upnotch™ today to start driving engagement and giving today.


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