"Students are alumni are students."
So says international analyst and consultant Dan Guhr. He recently commented that the boundary between student and alumnus is gradually dissolving. "Traditional, rigid concepts of student and alumnus are breaking down," he says.
Why is this happening? Dan cites several reasons.
- A weakening of the student–alumni boundary reflects students' need to connect into a network earlier in their education.
- Similarly, early talent acquisition brings alumni and students into the recruiting game, either directly (interviewing) or indirectly (as part of online communities).
- The trend also reflects alumni with professional needs looking for talented students.
- Life-long learning opportunities (and therefore repeat educational experiences) are increasingly prevalent. "Alumnus = student" says Dan.
So what's the likely result of these trends?
In other words, says Dan, we will see the breakdown of internal silos, which have structured higher education's responses to the outside world for a long time. In their place? An externally-focused model based on acquiring and processing information from the alumni network — instead of the other way around.