Advice from alumni can only benefit current students

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University marketing is always going to be focused on the goal of selling an education. If alumni and students were given the chance to talk to each other, it could open up a more honest and blunt conversation that could end up being both positive and constructive.  

During the most stressful points of the academic year, U of T, Western and McMaster have all implemented programs that give current students words of encouragement in the form of letters and notes from alumni.  

A similar campaign at Queen’s could only serve to benefit students who may be struggling to persevere, or students who are questioning their degree path.

While attending university, students often are absorbed in their own perspective. The time spent obtaining any degree is a transitory and often difficult period to work through alone. Hearing from alumni who’ve been through the same thing — down to the same program — can offer a degree of relief and comfort that an impersonal ‘you can do it!’ never could. 

Engaging alumni in this way gives them a fully formed connection to current students. For more recent alumni, many of whom are not yet in the financial position to make donations, a letter writing campaign gives them an opportunity to get involved at a lower cost. 

Alumni have been through the good and the bad of university and connecting them to current students — even with something as simple as a letter — creates a greater sense of community. 

In any program, a student may ask themselves, “Why am I doing this?” Hearing from someone who’s also been at that point in their education and made it through can give students a sense of confidence to pursue their degree. It could also help them decide whether or not this path is the best choice for them. 

A third party is key to keeping notes and letters from alumni to students authentic. If a program like this is run exclusively through the University, they may need to screen notes for heavier criticism. 

There are more Queen’s alumni out there than the Smiths and Baders of the world and this is a way to show off those people and what they have to tell us. 

 

— Journal Editorial Board

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