Thinking about your child’s future networks may not be the first thing to consider when selecting a school, especially when your child is still young. However, it is a crucial component in selecting the right school. Alumni networks are increasingly important in the knowledge economy because they give your son friendly access to mentors and advocates whose insights bring into relief the soft skills necessary for success in a variety of fields.
The Knowledge Economy
The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) refers to the knowledge economy as an “expression used to describe the trends in advanced economies towards greater dependence on knowledge, information and high skill levels, and the increasing need for ready access to all of these by the business and public sectors.”
For your son, this trend highlights the importance of developing a skill set based on expertise and insight, regardless of industry or profession. While some careers are more hands-on than others – for example, an engineer will spend a lot of time in the early stages of his career involved in hands-on work) – the need to have a deeper understanding of concepts related to the chosen field of work is paramount, especially at higher levels of management.
The Alumni Value
Often, ‘Old Boy networks’ come with an undeserved stigma — the insinuation that private schools simply draw on name value to push candidates on employers.
The truth of the matter couldn’t be more different. Schools that deliver real value from a post-graduation timeframe do so through a driven, relevant and engaged alumni association that engages the heart and mind. Rather than provide a ‘golden pathway’ to employment, a successful alumni association provides the tools needed to develop job-ready skills.
For example, industry based mentoring ‘upskills’ graduates to learn the soft skills that aren’t taught in tertiary education. The crucial component of an alumni association is in its endurance — it should be a connection that stays with your child for life, no matter what their professional, educational or social achievements will be. Through the good times and the bad, the great advantage of a private education is having access to inspirational and competent mentors that your child connects to in a deep and meaningful way.
Here are three ways to assess the value of a school’s alumni networks:
- Speak to Old Boys, not just about their experiences at school, but their experiences post school as well. Does their alumni association offer networking events? Were they actively paired with industry leading mentors?
- Research the association and view their digital media presence. Does the association actively engage their Old Boys over social and traditional media? Do they focus on a wide gamut of achievements across the professional and cultural arenas?
- Visit an event and see what the community is like for yourself. Does the association offer a back to school day? Is the community based beyond professional advancement? Does the association have a plan to be a community that cares as well as a vehicle for connection?
At Scots, our Old Boys’ Union exists to be a lifelong source of connection, care and camaraderie in the hearts and minds of Scots Old Boys. While retaining our timeless mission, we focus on building a relevant and outstanding connection for life by grounding our work in a commitment to the lives and wellbeing of our members.
Twice a year we publish The Lion & Lang Syne, a community magazine showcasing student achievement in academia, creative arts, sport and philanthropy. This magazine also has a section dedicated to our Old Boy’s Union.
Covering everything from past and future events to alumni achievements, this magazine will give you amazing insights into how your son can continue to benefit from a Scots education even after he graduates. Download your copy here.