Overcoming the 9% Problem: New Ways to Unleash Alumni Social Capital at Colleges
Innovative tools are revolutionizing alumni-student connections, making them more frequent and deliberate. Alumni networks play a crucial role in students' career paths, but many institutions struggle to ensure authentic and scalable connections. Emerging resources are helping bridge this gap by providing opportunities for alumni to serve as mentors, offer career advice, and engage in work-based learning. Riipen, a platform integrating real-world projects into classrooms, exemplifies how technology can foster connections between alumni and students across institutions, creating a win-win situation for both parties. These advancements are reshaping the landscape of alumni engagement and improving students' access to valuable networks.
According to Dana Stephenson, co-founder and CEO of Riipen, a platform that helps faculty integrate real-world projects—many of which hail from alumni—into their classrooms, cross-pollination among alumni networks doesn’t happen overnight. “Early days when we started Riipen, some people didn’t want to share. It was really difficult to convince some schools to share their networks and show people how Open Educational Resources could be mutually beneficial,” he said.