The 15 Colleges with the Best Alumni Networks

white ladder and red graduation cap leaning on blue wall
The 15 Colleges with the Best Alumni NetworksMicroStockHub - Getty Images

As hard as it is to get into college these days, things aren't any easier once those four years are up. Grads must leave behind the safe confines of manicured, ivy-lined campuses, no longer insulated from the responsibilities and perils of adulthood, thrust into an increasingly uncertain world. There is a reason why an entire industry has sprung up in the past few years dedicated to helping these young adults find their purpose, chart the right career path, and, hopefully, offer their parents some return on their six-figure investment (or at least not end up back in their basement).

But does the thought of yet another round of counselors and advisors give you déjà vu—and not the pleasant kind? There is another option, and it has been around forever: tapping into good old-fashioned college alumni networks. Not only are they wellsprings of resources—and potential job connections—but these groups, many of which have local chapters in all corners of the globe, also foster community and deep bonds through reunions, events, clubs, and even organized trips.

"The benefits of a strong alumni network are so clear that many universities have multiple departments dedicated to meeting alumni needs, whether it’s Career Services offering resources for life or Alumni Engagement planning international trips for alumni and their families," the experts at IvyWise tell T&C. What's in it for the schools? Happy alumni = generous donors.

A number of factors contribute to strong networks. It's not a surprise that large public universities with competitive sports teams tend to have sprawling alumni groups: nothing breeds camaraderie and fierce loyalty like rooting for the same Division I team. On the flip side, intimate liberal arts colleges have great alumni networks, too, their small sizes and quirky traditions facilitating the formation of tight, lifelong affiliations among students. Inspired now to take the long view? We tapped IvyWise for the 15 institutions with the best alumni networks.

Bucknell University

Lewisburg, Pennsylvania

Sticker price: $80,890
Class of 2026* acceptance rate: 32.55%
*Figures for the Class of 2027 not yet available.

"This small university in Pennsylvania lays claim to some impressive alumni, whose careers have influenced the world of business, sports, and television. Bucknellians credit some of their success to their liberal arts eduction, where they were able to explore topics within and between the three distinct schools of Arts & Sciences, Engineering, and the Freeman College of Management. This can be especially beneficial to engineers, as Bucknell is one of the few liberal arts schools with an engineering college. Once they’ve walked across the stage, grads rank right behind Columbia University when it comes to their early and mid-career salaries, according to Payscale’s College Salary Report."

fraternity boys riding in a purple car
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Claremont McKenna College

Claremont, California

Sticker price: $83,800
Class of 2026* acceptance rate: 10.35%

"One of the many benefits of a small liberal arts college is the opportunity to build impactful connections with professors and staff. At Claremont McKenna, where a close student-teacher relationship is part of the mission, alums mentor current students via an active virtual platform, offering support to help meet professional goals. These alums are the exact people you want to take career advice from: close to 70% of CMC alumni are in executive or senior level positions within their companies. CMC also differentiates itself from the other Claremont Colleges with its focus on preparing students to be responsible leaders in business and government. That may be why the Claremont McKenna College Alumni Association is a registered non-profit corporation. Finance, consulting, technology, and entrepreneurship are the largest fields for grads and Apple and Microsoft are the top companies to offer CMCers their first jobs."

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Dartmouth College

Hanover, New Hampshire

Sticker price: $84,748
Class of 2027 acceptance rate: 6.23%

"Dartmouth alumni are known for a certain level of devotion to their alma mater, earning the college the top spot on the Forbes list of happiest and most successful alumni. The only criteria for this title? Alumni giving. Established in 1769, this rural college has produced an astounding number of politicians, CEOs, and Olympic medalists, not to mention highly successful artists and entertainers. While it’s often categorized as a university due to its highly ranked research opportunities, Dartmouth is a College that emphasizes its commitment to undergraduate education. The unique 10-week quarter system keeps students engaged in a variety of classes and internships, while post-grad, finance, consulting, and technology have consistently been the most popular industries. Claiming to have one of the "most tight-knit alumni groups on the planet,” Dartmouth grads not only support each other through career choices but also marry one another often enough to showcase in a running series called Big Green Love Stories."

dartmouth college
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Fordham University

Bronx and Manhattan, New York

Sticker price: $85,067 (Rose Hill campus); $85,903 (Lincoln Center campus)
Class of 2027 acceptance rate: $50%

"Students who want to attend college in New York City but still want the classic campus experience might be drawn to Fordham, a Jesuit university with two main campuses: the traditional Rose Hill in the Bronx, and the urban Lincoln Center in Manhattan. Some of the most popular majors include political science, communications, theater, dance, and various offerings at the Gabelli School of Business, which was ranked in the top 20 Best Undergraduate Business Schools for 2023 by Poets&Quants. Fordham's NYC location allows students to hold internships year-round, rather than only during the summer. Some of the top employers for the Class of 2022 include PricewaterhouseCoopers, EY, JPMorgan Chase & Co., KPMG, and Fordham itself, a display of the strong ties that students feel with the university. Alumni can join one of 40 regional alumni chapters across the globe, connect with current students as a mentor through the Fordham Mentoring Network, pursue a Forever Learning Opportunity like a faculty mini lecture, volunteer on a Global Outreach service trip, or even travel with fellow alumni, with 2023 offerings including a Kenya safari, French cruise, and wildlife expedition to Yellowstone."

students on lawn on spring day
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Hamilton College

Clinton, New York

Sticker price: $82,430
Class of 2026* acceptance rate: 11.78%

"The upstate New York liberal arts school is among the three dozen oldest colleges in the United States and is a member of the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC). Students are required to live on-campus for all four years, which fosters a strong sense of community that lasts after graduation. While on campus, students build a bond for their college through volunteer opportunities, the performing arts, outdoor activities, and a slew of rich traditions including the Honor Code, Feb Fest, and Class & Charter Day. Alumni can connect with one another, as well as with current students, through the Hamilton Career Network, which presents internship, job, and mentorship opportunities. Hamilton’s recent 2023 reunion welcomed over 1,200 guests, a large number considering the small size of the school. Alumni are also engaged financially: the school not only met their recent Because Hamilton
campaign goal of $400 million (the college’s most ambitious fundraising initiative yet), but did so nearly two months before the campaign's conclusion dat—the alumni participation rate was 80%."

Edittok/Wikimedia Commons

The Ohio State University

Columbus, Ohio

Sticker price: $52,356
Class of 2026* acceptance rate: 48.14%

"The Ohio State's flagship campus is located in the state's capital, which is one of the Midwest's fastest-growing cities and the nation's top rising city for startups, meaning students have access to internships and jobs, culture, and sports. On campus there are 160 undergraduate majors across 15 colleges, from aerospace engineering to molecular genetics to real estate and urban analysis to zoology. Students form strong bonds that last long after graduation, rooted in a love of the Buckeyes, and traditions like the O-H-I-O chant, Homecoming Week, and a fierce rivalry with the University of Michigan. No matter where an alum may be in the world, if they spot a fellow Buckeye, they will shout “OH,” which is met with a responding, “IO.” A survey of the undergraduate Class of 2022, found that 86.7% were satisfied with their experience at Ohio State and 73.2% felt that the university prepared them well for the job market. More than a third of the students who were employed after graduation found their job through the university, whether via career fairs, faculty referrals, or alumni connections. Alumni can join regional alumni clubs, with 121 chapters in 33 states, DC, and ten international countries, as well as special interest societies, such as the Black Alumni Society, Marching Band (TBDBITL) Alumni Society, or Women in STEMM Alumni Society."

ohio state spring football game
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Penn State

University Park, Pennsylvania

Sticker price: $51,635
Class of 2026* acceptance rate: 55.21%

"Pennsylvania State University is the state’s only land-grant university, with its main campus at University Park located in the quintessential college town of State College. University Park is the largest campus in the university's system, with more than 14,000 students living in on-campus housing, and is home to the Nittany Lions. Students can join more than 1000 clubs and organizations, including the famous THON, the world’s largest student-run philanthropy, which supports children and families impacted by childhood cancer. Nearly 200 majors at the this campus and some of the most well-known undergraduate programs include supply chain management/logistics, insurance, real estate, engineering, computer science, and nursing. The Penn State Alumni Assocation has nearly 300 affiliate groups and runs programming to share news, support the student experience, harness the power of the network, build and sustain relationships, celebrate academic achievement, and keep traditions alive."

penn state flag
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Princeton University

Princeton, New Jersey

Sticker price: $79,090
Class of 2027 acceptance rate: 5.7%

"While every Ivy League education comes with a strong alumni network, Princeton might offer the strongest one. As one of the oldest colleges in the country, it has a rich history, and as part of a tradition that extends over 130 years, approximately 70% of juniors and seniors join one of 11 private and coed eating clubs. Princeton’s annual Reunions are legendary, with more than 26,000 guests participating in the festivities. Each year, nearly 38,000 alumni volunteer with the university in some capacity, including supporting the Alumni Association, providing career mentorship for current students, and interviewing prospective students. Alumni support for Princeton extends financially as well: the university’s 2022-23 Annual Giving campaign raised $73,785,175, with 47.5% of undergraduate alumni participating."

Pictured: Brooke Shields at her Princeton graduation in 1987.

brooke shields in mortarboard and gown
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Smith College

Northampton, Massachusetts

Sticker price: $82,828
Class of 2027 sticker price: 19

"This prestigious liberal arts college is one of the oldest institutions of higher education in the United States, providing women with a competitive education in the liberal arts and sciences for nearly 150 years. Smith students have access to even more distinguished faculty, academic programs, and network building opportunities through the Five College Consortium, which also includes Amherst, Mount Holyoke, Hampshire, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and collectively includes more than 7,000 courses, 2,100 faculty members, and 31,000 students. As one of the largest women’s colleges in the United States, with alumnae residing in all 50 states and more than 120 countries, there is no “old boys’ network” at Smith, but instead an “ageless women’s network.” Smith’s Alumnae Association, founded in 1881, offers volunteer opportunities, like representing Smith to prospective students (1,800 alumnae participate as Admission Volunteers), and a free digital Alumnae Book Club. The award-winning Smith Alumnae Quarterly tells the stories of its students and alumnae, from campus news to in-depth profiles of graduates."

Pictured: Former First Lady Nancy Reagan, Class of '43.

nancy reagan in leopard coat, northampton
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Texas A&M University

College Station, Texas

Sticker price: $51,576
Class of 2026* acceptance rate: 62.65%

"Texas A&M was the state of Texas's first public institution of higher education and is currently one of two flagship universities in the state, along with the University of Texas — Austin. There are more than 140 undergraduate degree programs, with agriculture and engineering being the most popular, and the university consistently ranks high on lists of the best value schools. A&M is famous for its historic traditions and rich Aggie Culture. Students enjoy watching sports, especially football, and that intense school spirit fosters one of the strongest alumni communities in the country, with Former Students, as they are known, wearing Aggie Rings as a symbol of their association with the university. Opportunities for alumni to connect with one another are plentiful, whether it's through networking for careers, taking trips with the Traveling Aggies, socializing through a club, or, of course, tailgating at football games."

miami v texas am
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University of Alabama

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Sticker price: $48,040
Class of 2026* acceptance rate: 80.06%

"The University of Alabama is one of the oldest (founded in 1831) and largest universities in the state. As a prominent research institution offering more than 70 undergraduate degree programs, including highly ranked business and public relations programs, and a rich history of tradition and culture, Alabama and its “Crimson Tide” have a significant economic and social impact on the state. The chant of “Roll Tide” can be heard far past the borders of the American South, with more than 100 active alumni chapters that host social and networking events, as well as watch parties for athletic games. Travel opportunities are available with the university’s Traveling with the Tide program and alumni can keep up with campus and department news, sports, and notable figures through the Alumni Association’s app or the Alabama Alumni Magazine. Membership with Alabama’s National Alumni Association also grants many benefits including scholarship opportunities for children and grandchildren, area discounts, entrance to local museums, and more. Plus, Alabama’s historic Greek system, which recently went viral with Bama Rush, is the largest in the nation with 36% of students participating—and it offers additional alumni networks for affiliated students."

Pictured: Bear Bryant, considered one of the greatest college football coaches of all time, led Alabama's team for 25 years.

alabama crimson tide
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University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame, Indiana

Sticker price: $80,071
Class of 2027 acceptance rate: 11.9%

"The Fighting Irish may be best known for their successful NCAA Division I sports programs, but on Notre Dame’s beautiful campus students will also find a community rich in tradition and academic excellence. As one of the most prestigious Catholic research universities in the United States, Notre Dame attracts intellectual individuals with its wide variety of majors, nearly 50 international study programs, and small classes (90% of classes have fewer than 50 students). All students have access to more than 500 student clubs and groups, which foster lasting bonds within the community. After graduation, the Notre Dame Alumni Association strengthens bonds between the university and members, inspiring those involved to thrive in faith, service, learning, and work. It also offers an online platform made up of digital neighborhoods where graduates can gather to pray with FaithND, learn with ThinkND, be inspired by We Are ND, and share passions. Alumni are also offered the opportunities to attend Football Fridays, Hesburgh Lectures, Family Volunteer Camp, reunions, and more, to stay connected with fellow Fighting Irish."

university of notre dame golden dome
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University of Richmond

Richmond, Virginia

Sticker price: $78,810
Class of 2027 acceptance rate: 22%

"Of its 37,136 alumni on LinkedIn, the largest chunk of them is employed at the school. If that doesn’t say, “I love my alma mater,” what does? Home of the Spiders, this smallish Virginia university finds many unique ways to showcase and support the accomplishments of their alumni, including prominently listing Spider-owned businesses on the alumni website. Highly ranked for both innovation and internships, Richmond students often graduate with real-world experience through paid internships or micro-internships (which are also paid). Perhaps this contributes to why 95% of grads land employment within a year. University of Richmond is also a top producer of Fulbright scholars."

university of richmond's boatwright library
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Villanova University

Villanova, Pennsylvania

Sticker price: $81,112
Class of 2027 acceptance rate: 20.5%

"Thanks to its location on a quintessentially collegiate Gothic campus in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Villanova students get the best of both worlds. They'll bond over a love of the Wildcats (the basketball team has made it to March Madness 39 times and won three times) and a shared commitment to service: students perform a total of nearly 250,000 hours of service on average per year. There are 65 majors to choose from, and of a survey of the Class of 2022, 98.9% are employed (with an average salary of $71,363), continuing their education, or involved in other endeavors, with the most popular careers including finance, consulting, engineering, and healthcare. The Villanova University Alumni Assocation has a "Once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat" motto, organizing more than 300 events per year and hosting more than 20,000 alumni on the private social and professional network, Nova Network, where alumni can connect with one another through affinity networks, industry-specific professional networks, or regional clubs.

st thomas of villanova chapel
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Virginia Tech

Blacksburg, Virginia

Sticker price: $51,582
Class of 2026* acceptance rate: 57%

"On the national level, Virginia Tech has historically been overshadowed by its in-state peer, the University of Virginia, but has recently come into its own in terms of application numbers and selectivity. In fact, applications have more than doubled and the overall acceptance rate has decreased by 13 percentage points in the past decade. As its name suggests, Virginia Tech is best known for its technology and engineering programs, but offers a wide range of other majors across the arts, business, education, government, and more. Its setting in beautiful Blacksburg, located between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny mountains, makes it a great choice for students interested in exploring the outdoors. A shared commitment to service and rich traditions and history develop a strong sense of community. The Virginia Tech Alumni Association has more than 100 chapters across the globe, from as close as the Allegheny Highlands to as far as New Zealand. Regional chapters host "Welcome to the City" events in August to introduce new graduates to members of their alumni chapter. Other events are held on an ongoing basis so Hokies can network with one another for career opportunities at regional networking events and career fairs."

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