The alumni are coming, the alumni are coming.

Today marks the beginning of Homecoming 2015, during which an estimated 2,000 alumni — according to the Office of Alumni Engagement — will return to Elon University to reconnect with the university and old classmates, professors and friends.

But this weekend can be more than a time for reconnecting. It also offers a rare opportunity for alumni to form new connections with current students and for current students to learn from former Phoenix who have been out in the "real world” for as little as a few months or for as long as a few decades.

Alumni are more than just older friends to party with. They’ve done something current students haven’t done: graduated. It’s obvious, but some current students need to be reminded that alumni, no matter how long they’ve been out of college, have experiences to share and advice to give. They’ve lived the post-grad life. They’ve done what we’ll all do in less than four years.

The university and student organizations have planned events for the better part of three days. These events include open houses, networking events, tailgates, panels, receptions and brunches as academic departments and student organizations welcome back former members.

These events are great ways to welcome graduated friends back to Elon. But they’re also settings in which students can meet former students they’ve never talked to and who can offer advice for the rest of college or life after.

Older alumni — such as the class of ’65, here for their 50th reunion — obviously have wisdom to share. But so do younger alumni — such as the class of ’15, here for their “0th” reunion — who have more current advice to share. The world they graduated into is nearly similar to the one we will graduate into, and we should be eager to take any advice they can offer. We can listen to what they have to say, or treat them like they’re still students and do the same things we did when they were students here.

Have fun with alumni. Don’t put them on a pedestal. Welcome them back with open arms. But take time to actually talk with them and listen to what they have to say. You might learn a thing or two.


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