5 ways to welcome Class of 2020 alumni amidst COVID-19
For schools and universities around the world, the ongoing coronavirus crisis has shortened the semester and put a hard stop to all planned events and gatherings. The worst hit by this series of events is the Class of 2020 as their final months on campus are snatched away from them and commencement ceremonies either stand cancelled, postponed, or moved online.
These new alumni experience mixed feelings as one of the happiest moments of their life - their day of graduation that they worked so hard to get to, is now replaced with sadness and disappointment over not being able to celebrate this joyous day with friends and family.
As these new graduates launch themselves into the worst job market since the Great Recession, amidst anxiety and fear over revoked job offers and huge loans, your role as their alma mater could define their lives for decades to come.
Here are 5 thoughtful ways to welcome your Class of 2020 alumni to lift their spirits and ease their way through this transition.
Video messages from alumni
One thing that your new graduates would definitely appreciate is hearing from their seniors! Have your alumni community create short video messages to welcome the newest members with the most thoughtful messages, praises, and words of wisdom to encourage them as they embark on a new journey.
Even better, surprise your newest members with a special video appearance from a star alum!
To brighten up the virtual graduation ceremony for their newest alumni brethren, St. Francis High School encouraged its alumni to create short videos to welcome the Class of 2020. The video compilation also included a special appearance by the school’s longtime community member, Fergie, former Black Eyed Peas music band member who dropped in to congratulate the new alumni.
Honor each of your grads with customized yard signs
The Class of 2020 has already been robbed of a conventional commencement ceremony and definitely deserve some extra love and attention. Honor each one of them for the sacrifices they’ve had to make and celebrate their achievements and success with customized yard signs.
Yard signs with pictures of alumni are a unique way to display support for your graduates and publicly announce their accomplishments.
Nicholls State University Alumni Federation arranged to have yard signs made to honor each and every graduating senior and encouraged them to drop by the Alumni House on campus to click a picture with their customized signs. The pictures taken by young graduates were then shared on social media and the memorable souvenirs were later on taken home by alumni.
Bring back memories of the year with a Spotify playlist
Give your new graduates a chance to bond again over music that will forever stay close to their hearts. Have your teachers and students put together a Spotify playlist featuring the Class of 2020’s favourite tracks define their campus experience and surprise them by playing the tracks during their virtual commencement ceremony. Also, make the playlist available via a link on your alumni website.
University of Maryland Alumni Association created an exclusive Spotify playlist to celebrate their Class of 2020. The university also added a link to the playlist on their alumni website.
Dedicate a week of events for Class of 2020
As the Class of 2020 misses their traditional end-of year programming, many schools and universities are hosting virtual events to honor this important milestone in the lives of their new graduates.
North Allegheny School District went a step further and dedicated a week of events to celebrate their new alumni. From a car parade to a virtual dance party, the institution meticulously planned multiple themed events in the spirit of graduating seniors. North Allegheny Foundation, NA Alumni Association, and NASD also started a fundraiser to raise money for this special gift to their graduates.
Get your alumni to offer guidance and advice to support the Class of 2020 through the economic crisis
The job market is extremely hostile and your new graduates are reeling under the pressure of rescinded job offers and canceled interviews. As this crisis unfolds, one way of welcoming your Class of 2020 is by offering them the support of those who’ve had first-hand experience dealing with a similar situation.
Yes, we’re talking about your Class of 2008. While the circumstances may be largely different, your Class of 2008 comes closest to understanding what the Class of 2020 is going through. Make it easy for your new graduates to interact with your graduates of 2008 by creating an affinity group on your alumni website or a community on Facebook or LinkedIn.
The College of Idaho created a closed community on their alumni network inviting graduates of 2008 to help out their newest alumni members. The private community has a total of 341 members.
As the Class of 2020 learns to adapt and overcome the challenges thrown at them, the onus is on schools and universities to ensure that these young graduates come out strong. So, we hope you make the most of the ideas shared in this blog post and welcome your Class of 2020 as alumni to your institution with pomp and gaiety!