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Screen Shot 2018-03-09 at 8.08.36 AMAfter reading this article in the WSJ this morning about the ‘trouble’ behind a high schooler wanting to go to trade school after high school, coupled with a memory from law school of learning about the biennale in Venice (I know, this is a weird mash up), I think one of the things we forget about college is that we not only get an ‘education’ in books inside the classroom, but we also get an education in growing up and becoming independent adults outside the classroom.

(So, follow along with me here on my argument, which is a bit odd, but hopefully I’ll make my point at the end.)

One thing I think many universities are also missing out on are these classes or communities that are created AFTER college. For example, my first alma mater – Butler University – is where I share several connections with other alumni in the community that I still am connected to this very day. I think it’s kind of like going to Hogwarts–in that once you’re in, there’s a community that you automatically become a part of…for life.

However, people are rebelling that the cost of college is exorbitant. I agree to some extent. But, where I think the value and opportunity lies and that many universities aren’t taking advantage of – is the community itself–the alumni–built over time. Re-gathering the people and alumni is important, and a valuable win for all parties. The relationship between the individual and the 4 year undergraduate institution should never stop upon commencement. It’s always going to be there, potentially.

Some might argue that’s what we call “homecoming”, Erin. Duh. Yeah. I understand. However, I’m not talking about everyone meeting out in the parking lot before the game to drink beer. Candidly, that is not enough.

I think every university should have it’s own biennale. So, in Butler’s case, maybe a Butlernnele. (Or a McKinnennele, or a Concordiannele, or a Shenandoahnnele.)

What do I mean by this?

Every other year, or even every year – the university coordinates and celebrates a day or a weekend focused on alumni and their contributions to the world. They can teach the students at the university what they learned, connect and re-connect, and make the community of alumni even stronger. It gives the alumni the opportunity to share their work and wisdom, and in turn creates layered learning for the next generation. It gives the alumni an opportunity to re-connect with the university, and it gives everyone an opportunity to focus on one of the most valuable and unexploited advantages of attending a college in the first place–the community itself.

It drives me nuts and breaks my heart a little every time I get one of those slick (super expensive to print) magazines in the mail from my 4 alma maters on alumni and the university. Please – make that come to life instead and dump the magazines. Live stream the Butlernnele. Share it with the community at large and celebrate the one-of-a-kind community that has been created in the alumni pool.

I’ll step off my soapbox now.

And if the gal up in the WSJ article above chooses to be a mechanic – she can do this idea with her alma mater too. I think it would make an awesome car show!

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