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What is the usual expectation of a student by an alma mater? Usually students quit after becoming a part of the alumni association. The contacts are by and large severed a few months after leaving a school.

What are some ways in which one can give something back to alma mater? Is monetary support the best way? One can also be a point of contact to current students. Are there other ways of giving back to our teachers and institutions?

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Why are you concerned about expectations? After you get your parchment, your school no longer has anything to give to you.

What you give is purely from your own generosity -- because you feel by giving back to the school, others will benefit. You give because you feel it is the right thing to do. You give because you want the school to purchase that lab upgrade. You give because you want to fund this research because you think it's important.

"Expectations" from an alma mater are not only irrelevant, but it is wrong to think that you owe them something. You paid tuition, they gave you your parchment. That deal is orthogonal to "donations" and post-grad support of alma mater.

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    while this is entirely true, i'd like to point out that a donation's value is not purely subjective - donations by graduates is a factor in university ranking, which definitely plays a role in job offers, networking, etc. So while you are 99% correct, there is some benefit for the donor in return – im so confused Apr 12 '13 at 20:14
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    I wouldn't say it's always wrong to think you owe your alma mater something (not legally, of course, but morally). At some universities with charitable traditions and large endowments, you get considerably more than your tuition pays for, because you are supported by the generosity of past students. There's a well-established social expectation to return the favor by donating if you are well off later in life, and all the students are aware of this. It's tantamount to still owing your alma mater something, and this seems reasonable and fair to me. – Anonymous Mathematician Apr 13 '13 at 3:33
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Aside from the more obvious choice of making donations of money (for which there is practically no upper bound, and the entire expenditure may not be as transparent as you'd like it to be), there can be an equally valuable way of helping your alma mater: Your time.

It may be as simple as giving a graduation speech (for the more famous/successful alums who have good oratory skills), or as sustained as acting as mentors for a group of freshmen who'd share your career interests. With regard to the latter, you can make a visible, personal impact in multiple careers, which might be more satisfying and help create a stronger alumni network in the long run.

  • Also meeting/interviewing prospective students, although that's more for undergrad than graduate level. – mkennedy Apr 12 '13 at 19:53
  • +1 Based on my understanding, the amount of time you contribute to the university by participating in activities and events also count toward the university's "engagement score" – Theresa Liao Apr 18 '13 at 4:39
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The customs about alumni associations depend very strongly on the country: alumni donations in US institutions (for example) contributes in part to their funding, while in France it ranges from nonexistant (for small institutions) to negligible.

However, one role of alumni associations which has not been detailed in the other answers is the role it can play in network building. By participating in the alumni association, you may get good networking opportunities, and also help the younger/less connected members of the association. I'll also point out that participation does not need to take the form of checks or wire transfer: you can play an active role in other important ways, such as organizing and hosting events, helping maintain a newsletter or website, act as a representative in your field/industry/community, etc.

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Some ways in which our Alumni association "gives back".

  • Donating money to create and sustain a fund for kids who join our school but don't have the finances to pay the fees easily.
  • Many alumni paid to get our school a new school bus.
  • We set up a fund to give the teachers health insurance (which the school earlier didn't provide)
  • Long service awards to teachers.
  • Rolling trophies for exceptional students.
  • Creating an association to mentor students when they have queries about the future career path they could choose.
  • Spreading word via social networking websites and helping out if any teacher/student needs urgent help of any kind.

Other activities:
* Road-races, basketball tournaments and other sports to remain in touch with each other and with the existing school students.
* Organizing for reunions both in our country and abroad, for alumni who ended up abroad.

Update: In general, there are no expectations. But if you do want to help the school for having given you knowledge, then it's necessary to stay in touch to know what problems they face and how you and the alumni can help solve it. If staying in touch is difficult, a regular monetary donation always helps.

  • Your answer, though good in principle, is not related to giving back to a university, which is what the OP referred to. – Massimo Ortolano Dec 4 '15 at 16:34

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