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Alumni Blues

So there is an article in the Strib today about the U of M alumni association and the trouble it is having connecting with new graduates. It is written by one of our own, Jenna Ross, who is a J-school and Daily product.

From the article:

Alumni blues: Grads aren't lining up for Ski-U-Mah

The University of Minnesota's alumni association is getting creative in its efforts to reach younger grads. But it's a tough sell.

But it is the comments on the article that are scary. We have a problem folks. And all the caterwauling about third greatest yadda, yadda, is not going to get us out of it.

There is going to have to be a fundamental change in attitude in Morrill Hall. It is not the fault of the alumni association that people feel this way. And the improvements that need to be made so that the alumni association is going to be able to recruit more heavily - which is necessary - are not going to be made by the association.

Selections from the comments:

Could it be that recent grads are working for minimum wage and can barely pay student loans? Old alumni felt a bond to their alma mater that was forged in memories and education. Now it is forged in interest rates. Is anyone surprised participation in alumni events is low?

I'm 39 and think I paid too much.

Student Loans Have Been A Disastrous Way To Fund Higher Education This whole system needs to be re-worked.

My daughter just completed her BA at the U after five years with majors in Global Studies and Political Science and a minor in Econ. She received a good education but is resentful that each year she was there tuition rose anywhere from 10 to 15% each year without a corresponding value in her degree.

I graduated decades ago but I vividly remember having the distinct impression the college was soaking me for all I was worth, and then some. combine that with how utterly useless their placement office was and the result is NO desire WHATSOEVER to send them money, and no warm fuzzy feelings either.

Eight out of 10 graduates under age 35 feel they've already paid too much in tuition to donate to their alma mater and are up to their ears in loans paying off that tuition.. OK, let's see - pay off the money the U loaned to you and took in tuition and general fees and lab fees and ads and parking tickets, or give the U more money..

I will become a member when they can convince the other alumni to stand and cheer at football games like the fans from WI or IA!

I Survived the U and Want nothing more to do with it
I graduated despite the best efforts of the U. I graduated and never looked back. It will be a cold day before they get another dollar out of me. I have made sure that all three of my kids have gone anywhere but the U.

This is some sort of surprise? The reason is pretty clear.... They may not think that their degree was worth the tuition and effort it took to complete it. There may be some marketing efforts that could help the U increase the amount of contributions it gets but overall I think the real story is that college grads especially in that age range feel they haven't gotten their end of the bargain yet.

Lower rating than Congress: After read all of the posts, I have concluded that the U of M has a lower approval rating than the United States Congress. I did not think that was possible.

I have a degree from the University of Minnesota and I am proud of that fact. I worked hard for the degree and paid a great deal of money to attend the school. That said, the "college experience" at the U of M will be remembered as cold, bureaucratic, impersonal, and hardly worth any monetary contribution beyond my tax dollar.

I realize now I am not the only one frustrated with the U of MN. I was elated to go to the U of MN, my mom went there, my sister, and my brother too. For us it was more of a family thing, a proud tradition. Unfortunately; unless you're Greek, it is a cold, anti-social environment. I don't blame the U, per se, but the student morale there is dismal. There is no pride in attending the U... crappy sports teams might be a reason, tuition hikes every year, thousand dollar classes taught by an imbecile TA, or a professor whose accent is so thick you can't understand a word they say (and I speak four languages).

As a current student
... I'm just waiting for the association to not give me a choice in the matter, but to add another "fee" on to my tuition to cover the cost of membership. How is the following even possible (see below)? Why don't they just call it all what it is - tuition! $1044.36 in mandatory "fees" every semester - this is disgusting... Undergraduate Tuition: $4,560.00 University Fee: $600.00 Student Services: $348.41 CCE Collegiate Fee: $38.00 Capital Enhancement Fee: $25.00 Transportation Fee: $17.00 Stadium Fee: $12.50 MN Student Assoc Fee: $2.26 Council of College Boards Fee: $1.19

I agree with mckensm0 - I also went to the U, and am constantly barraged by emails and calls asking for more money. It is a huge, cold and uncaring place. They raised my tuition for the football stadium that I will never visit, among many, many other things. The alumni association is nothing but a business to increase their revenue - nothing else. As if they haven't taken enough from me.

Comment about tuition only paying for 20% of the U's operating budget seems a little misleading. Although it is true, there are many things unconnected to expenses for the education of students that go into the U's operating budget. I've been trying for years to get a number out of the administration for the actual cost of educating an undergrad for one year at the U. No dice, so far. BUT they are now claiming that the bargain basement - not reciprocity - cost to out of state residents covers the FULL cost of education. This means that in state tuition plus about twenty percent is the true cost according to the admin. The state gives in support of the U about the same amount of money as tuition revenue. This should be more than enough to make up the 20%. In the end if the U wants to regain the trust of the citizens and the alums, more transparency and different priorities are in order.

Any alum's beef may be first and foremost with the administration and the Board of Regents, but in my experience the alumni association has been little more than a mouthpiece for the administration, trying to move alumni to back the administration's goals. It has never served as an honest sounding board to solicit and consider the views of alumni. Perhaps if it did, both it and the U would garner more support

The first step toward solving a problem is to recognize that you have one. If remarks like those above don't convince the Morrill Hall Gang that we have a problem, then I don't know what it is going to take. Of course remarks like these are nothing new. They have been blown off for years by the MHG.

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