Student vs. Alumni

Shannan Needleman and her daughter Taylor

Alumna Shannan Needleman and her daughter Taylor

What kind of college student were you? And how does that translate to your alumni status?

Were you an active student involved in clubs, sororities, extracurricular classes? Did you work to put yourself through school? Were you married?

Everyone sees and reflects on their college experience through different eyes. I believe there are three unique types of college students and for the sake of brevity will call them: active, academic and party.

The active student quickly becomes submerged in the college culture. These students seek a social life complete with friends, organizations, and sorority or fraternity life. They learn to balance their social life and academics in order to succeed and often walk away with a positive perception and stronger ties to their alma mater. Some of these students will leave college life behind altogether and move on to a completely new chapter in their professional lives.

The academic student attends the university for the education. These students seldom develop bonds with other students and spend very little time socializing. Because their sole intent and motivation is to graduate and move on, they rarely visit campus outside of course requirements. Often these students are seeking a master’s or doctoral degree and live a vastly different life outside of classes. They may have families and spend free time doing research or work in nursing while attending classes.

Finally we have the party student. These students often view college as an escape from their hometown. They could be attending any university in the country, they show no allegiance to their college, they seek inexpensive housing (often having several roommates) and they do the bare minimum to pass their classes in an attempt to graduate. Sometimes they will hold a part-time job as a means to fund their social life.

Reflecting on your overall college experience, do you fall into one of these categories? Can you create a category of your own? How does the type of college student you once were reflect on your alumni involvement? Did you move beyond your college years to the point your college experience is collecting dust in your brain like that shoe box on the top shelf of your closet? Do you enjoy reliving your college days as often as possible? Let me know.

There is no doubt that the type of student you were in college affects the bond you have with your alma mater. More than likely active students would jump at the opportunity to return to campus to relive their glory days. These former students are encouraged to return more often for sorority/fraternity reunions, tailgating at sporting events and alumni functions.

Academic students may show an intense dedication to the college that has given them a fine education and greatly impacted their professional life. These students are more likely to encourage other professionals and students to attend their university, donate to their school, get involved in alumni organizations that further education and return to campus for academic based events.

And finally party students actively profess they have graduated from a fine institution, may attend a football game every now and then, but rarely stay in contact with any friends from the college years and hardly ever donate.

Is my perception or category of students set in stone? No, not at all. There will be academic students out there who have no ties to their university. There will be party students who have grown up and matured and feel a closeness to their alma mater.

However one thing is for certain, every graduate from the University of Texas at Austin School of Nursing should feel proud of their accomplishment. The UTSoN is the major center of nursing education and scholarship in Texas. It consistently ranks among the top overall nursing schools in the country. You deserve to beam in pride when you think about all the blood, sweat and tears you poured into class. And you should always remember the day you walked across the stage to receive your diploma, that feeling of intense self-worth and honor.

I encourage you to think outside the box this year and take the first step to reintroducing yourself to a university that has given you so much. 2013 should be the year you rediscover and seek new ties to the School of Nursing and the University of Texas. How, you may ask?

Pledge to attend a football game this fall:

Visit the Alumni & Friends page on the UTSoN website:

Take part in a nursing sponsored event on campus:

Donate back to a school that has given you so much and help a deserving student:

Create a Scholarship in a loved ones name or Honor a Nurse:

Update your information in the UTSoN Alumni database:

Check out some of these new social media avenues to reconnect:
Nurses Lounge:

Despite what type of student you may have been, you can easily reconnect with your alma mater, and in fact we are looking for you. We want to include every graduate in our database, so that reconnecting with former teachers, professors, friends and colleagues is just a click away. An updated database allows your alumni organization to communicate with you, keep in touch, inform about events, provide out of state or country point-of-contacts, and assist with mentorship.


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One comment on “Student vs. Alumni
  1. Thanks very much for this post!

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