Why You Should Give Back to Your College Alma Mater

by Hank Coleman

Why You Should Give Back to Your College Alma MaterI’m a firm believer in giving back to your college. I received so much in both formal and informal education during my four years in college, I naturally want others to reap the same rewards I did. It’s because of this that I think that if you’re able to, you should not only give back to your college alma mater the gift of money, but also the gift of time.

You might not think of it this way, but you should value your college diploma like a share of stock. Graduates should want to see their alma maters grow in stature, and one way to help out is by giving back. Unfortunately, not enough alumni are giving back to their colleges these days — and it shows.

Giving back with our money and our time helps support the next generation of students and alumni. When we give back to our colleges, that money goes toward research, scholarships, and new facilities, among other things. It helps increase the stature of the college, making it a better place. Our giving back also affects how employers, grad schools and others see our alma maters.

Giving Back’ Doesn’t Have to Mean Money

We often forget that our time is valuable and can be almost as important as any donation we make to our alma maters. Human capital is just as beneficial to the sustained vitality of a university and can be just as important, if not more, than purely financial support.

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When we give back to your college alma maters, we get a sense of satisfaction in knowing that we’re furthering the aims of the institution that did so much to educate us and give us a better life.

Alumni typically give back to their schools in proportion to their own gratitude and success. There may be a correlation to poor giving and the realization that our undergraduate degree directly led to a portion of our success.

But should this always be the case? One reason that colleges don’t enjoy higher alumni giving is that their graduates often fail to connect the dots of their success to their alma mater.

Giving Back Makes Us Sharper, Too

Education is a never-ending process. We continue to learn even after we graduate. And nothing is often more apparent than when we give back to our alma maters.

Rebecca Stilwell is president of O’More College of Design and a former managing director with Morgan Stanley. “I heard one of our best professors say that he loves teaching because it makes him sharper in his field,” she says. “It keeps him current. And every great teacher will say they get more out of teaching than the students.”

What better way to stay relevant, sharp, and challenged than to spend time with your alma mater?

Giving Back Helps Your Own Reputation

Helping improve the stature of our alma maters can have a second- and third-order effect on our own lives and the perceived value of our own college diploma.

Whether it’s giving our money or our time, we should all want to see our alma maters thrive. Doing so can only help our own lot in life.

“We all want to make the world a better place,” Shari Fox, executive vice president of O’More College of Design. “By sharing our time and talent and money with colleges, we do a bit of good and can even change lives by helping a worthy student earn a college education.”

What to know a few other reasons you should give back to your college? Be sure to see the rest of the story on AOL Daily Finance.

Note: This article originally appeared on AOL Daily Finance and is reprinted with permission. See the full article on AOL Daily Finance.

Why You Should Give Back to Your College Alma Mater

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About Hank Coleman

Hank Coleman is the founder of Money Q&A, an Iraq combat veteran, a Dr. Pepper addict, and a self-proclaimed investing junkie. He has written extensively for many nationally known financial websites and publications. Hank holds a Master’s Degree in Finance and a graduate certificate in personal financial planning. Email him directly at Hank[at]MoneyQandA.com.

Hank Coleman has written 581 articles on Money Q&A. Learn more about Money Q&A on Twitter @MoneyQandA and @HankColeman.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Anne @ Unique Gifter

Yes! I really, really, really like to encourage people to give back to their alma maters, for all the reasons you have listed here and more. As you’ve said, it can even be self-interested reasons, but there are payoffs for everyone in doing so.


Anne @ Unique Gifter

Additional reasons: Creating opportunities for those that wouldn’t be able to access them otherwise, replacing dwindling government funding, supporting extracurriculars for all of their citizen-building aspects (and hey, they’re plain fun), supporting the development of future giving back from new alumni (I love things like tag days for this), enabling specific projects or things to happen. An example of the last one is a donor at my undergrad alma mater donating a Rembrandt, thereby dramatically raising the profile of the on-campus gallery and the archival programs/art history programs. One day I would like to sponsor an excel and microsoft office skills course, for example.


Phroogal Jason

I agree with you that it is important to always give back or pay it forward. I learned a great deal from the schools I went to for undergrad and grad. But, one of those schools financial aid office treated me so badly that even after all these years I can remember the moment the employee told me it wasn’t his concern or problem I couldn’t afford school. So I ended up postponing college a year. I refuse to give the school (public university) money but I have on occasion given for specific scholarships. I also do give back through alumni association mentorship. If I can give a college student some guidance that I (they) couldn’t get from the school I am all for it.


The Wallet Doctor

I think another reason to give back is to feel connected to an important part of your life. I really enjoyed getting my degree, and when I interact with the school as a successful individual, I feel like I am doing something valuable.


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