After Graduation: Giving Back to Your Alma Mater

Just about everyone knows that May is Graduation Month here in the US.  A lot of graduations take place across the nation in this single month, including high school, college, post-graduate degree graduations.  And if you didn't know, well now you do.

Now that you have graduated, you can officially put that additional (or first) degree on your resume (or CV).  For example:

University of XYZ, May 20XX
Bachelor of Arts, Yoruba (You better not be laughing) ... Someone has to teach Yoruba for a living.  How else will your kids learn it in school?

Anyway, after graduation, you may start getting those emails and letters telling you to "give back" to your school.  How many times have you deleted that email and trashed that letter? For me, countless times.

I have come to realize that there is an emotional connection between you and the school you choose to fondly refer to as your "Alma Mater."  Just graduating from a school is not enough.  You must have felt a real connection to that school in some way (friends you made, lessons you learnt, experiences you had, etc) to make you decide to give back.

That means that no matter how awesome the school's mascot is (or how much it sucks) or how many games the football / basketball team won (Yup! Those are about the only two that count) if you don't feel connected to the school or you don't feel like the school impacted your life in a profound way, you will not feel the need to give back. And if there's no emotional connection and you decide to give back anyway, maybe you're just "cool like that."

That emotional connection is what is called  school spirit.  I believe that is the singular most important factor which decides whether or not you support your alma mater financially or otherwise.

For me, when the time comes, I would rather give back to the schools I attended in Nigeria, not the ones I attended here in the US, simply because I believe the schools in Nigeria could use all the help they can get.

Your turn: Would you give back to your alma mater? Why or Why not?

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I would definitely give back to my alma mater. I mean, they gave me the foundation to build on what i am today so i guess it's be my social responsibility to keep that going in any way i can :)


For me, This right here......if you don't feel connected to the school or you don't feel like the school impacted your life in a profound way, you will not feel the need to give back... i still wonder why i am so disconnected from my alma mater


I started getting those alumni association emails even before i graduated lol. I have yet to give anything back though. I'm broke and my school's President is an heiress. If anything she should be giving me some money for the enormous amount of debt i incurred attending her university!!! *but i'm not bitter tho lol* I do love my alma mater though and if/when i find myself in the position to give back monetarily i will. Its funny, i really didn't develop any school spirit until after i graduated...probably because i got my masters from one of our rival universities

Lady Ngo

Toin: I share your sentiments, except that I only share them with respect to the schools I attended in Nigeria. For the ones here ... Well, gbogbo school fees ti won ti collect ti to! Translation: All the school fees they have collected is enough. That's enough contribution!

Jemima: I have no idea either ... Lol! I used to feel the same way while I was still in school, but after I graduated, it was clear.

Lady NGO: Your comment cracked me up! Lol! You're not alone with the "she should be giving me money" feeling. With the economy in the funk it is in, it's quite normal. And yes, student loans are no joke. I'm surprised you still want to give back in spite of all this though. You must be very kind. As for me .... *ahem* forget it!

So since you went to a rival school, which one do you identify with the most? I am very interested in knowing ...

I will always and forever be a Bull lol. Definitely identify with my undergrad institution. Went there first, spent the most time there, was most engaged there. I haven't even set foot on the other schools campus since i graduated. Most people don't generally have as strong of a connection to the school they do their grad/doctoral studies at. Or at least that's the theory.

Lady Ngo

Lol @ bachelor in yoruba (ah! wouldn't that be something). But yeah, I don't know about the giving back to school in Naija cos they need it more. I would be to worried about misappropriation of funds (i mean my hard earned funds) if I was giving it in Naija. I'd rather give directly to students than schools lol I just can't trust organized institutes in Naija biko too many pockets need to be lined.

But as per giving back to your alma mater, you're right it definitely depends on whether you felt your school impacted you or not. For me, I'd say it changed my mentality and life trajectory enormously (and this is the school itself, not just the people in it) but then where does one even begin to give?

Lady NGO: Aha! So it's official: College is your alma mater, and the "other" school is just ... well, the other school. Thanks for humoring me with an answer. I wasn't expecting it.

You know, that bit about not connecting to grad school is news to me. But it explains a lot.

I think your Nigerian Alma Mater needs it more. Do you remember one guy that used to come and beg in Unilag, and he'll start with "Good Day. my alma mater" Lol. For the six years, I was in Lag, this gu was a regular


For me, giving back does not necessarily have to be to my alma mater. I kinda feel more obliged to give to public primary and secondary schools that lack basic classroom furniture. As for my alma mater and all other schools I attended, hmmm, not sure yet.

Green Biro

Funny enough, I feel more connected to the school where I got my graduate degree than I do to my undergrad school. Although, in reference to my graduate school, I feel more connected to the law school than to the school in its entirety. My grad school was more personable, I knew 98% of the faculty and the staff and I felt like part of the family. Therefore, I definitely agree with Aunty Rele's deduction on the correlation between the emotional experience and the decision to give back.

But I do plan to give back to both because they were instrumental in my education process; and giving back affords future generations the same/better opportunity given to me.


Nollywood Reinvented: By giving back to Nigeria, I don't mean physically handing the money over to corrupt school officials. I don't think that is wise. If I were to give back, I would take charge of that project myself. I refuse to fund the VC's trips to Dubai using scholarship money!

I wouldn't worry about where to start giving from. These things have a way of sorting themselves out when you've made a decision and take the first step. Your heart is in the right place.

Atilola: Ah, I don't remember the guy o. I'm even wondering if I ever met him sef. But yes, Nigerian schools need the money more than the schools here.

Green Biro: You make an interesting point, i.e. what if you feel NO connection to ALL the schools you ever attended? In that case, what you propose is the logical next step: give to the places that need it the most. That makes perfect sense.

Dayo: For me, I feel no connection to either school ... Lol! You know that thing you said about the law school was actually my experience too. And I think it was because the law school was detached from the main campus and seemed to be run by a different set of rules too. Law school was actually jokingly referred to as "High School" for the same reason you pointed out: you knew who was who. Not the same for undergrad.

You must be very kind-hearted since you plan to give back to both. Honestly, that is not in my agenda at this point.


I would love to hear your thoughts. Please Share.

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