Most graduating seniors are sad to say goodbye to their college years. But through the benefits offered to Elon University graduates by Elon’s Alumni Association, students can continue to stay connected to the university in both fun and rewarding ways.

After graduating from Elon, students are automatically considered members of the Elon Alumni Association. The program is entirely free of charge, a perk not commonly offered at other universities, according to Kiley Moorefield, coordinator of young alumni engagement at Elon.

“I think one of the things that is amazing about Elon’s alumni association is that all of the benefits that are provided, including several tangible benefits, are at no charge to the alums,” she said. “Whereas some universities do charge an annual membership fee, Elon does not, so I think that’s one of the biggest things to keep in mind.”

Graduates receive a combination of tangible, social and professional benefits, which are paid for through a budget within the Office of University Advancement. Through the GET TAGGED! luggage tag programs, Elon alumni can receive free maroon and gold luggage tags simply by sending their business cards to the university. They also receive the quarterly Magazine of Elon, which updates them on happenings within the university and provides them with alumni news and information.

Alumni are also invited to a number of social events, the most popular of which is Homecoming, Moorefield said.  In addition to Homecoming, which takes place every fall, alumni can attend regional events hosted by alumni chapters across the country.

“We have chapters located all over the United States that host social gatherings, service projects, networking opportunities for alumni that live in that area,” Moorefield said. “So that’s a really great way to get involved regionally and meet other alumni and maintain your connection with Elon while not actually here on campus.”

A total of 2,797 alumni participated in alumni events for the 2011-2012 year. A variety of travel programs are also offered to alumni, most of which are international.

On a professional level, Elon alumni are offered career advice through the Student Professional Development Center. This advice can take the form of resume and cover letter assessments, assistance with the job search or mock interviews.

Alumni can also utilize online resources such as the Elon Job Network or the Elon Mentor Network. The Elon Mentor Network is made up of more than 700 alumni, parents of students and friends of the university who are willing to help reach out to Elon students and Elon alumni, according to Marianne Brigola, career fellow.

“If you are interested in wanting to learn more about a certain career or a certain field, if you want advice on how to break into a certain industry after you’ve been out for a while or how to gain more experience, you can go through the Elon Mentor Network and search for people who are working in those fields or living in those cities,” Brigola said.

Many alumni use the provided services if they are thinking about changing careers, Brigola said. And while many universities offer alumni services for the first  six months students are out of college, Elon’s services are uniquely offered for a lifetime.

“We’ve had people who come in who’ve had whole careers, who’ve retired, (but who) want to figure out what to do next,” Brigola said.

Students who graduated with a degree from a school with its own career office, such as the School of Communications or the Love School of Business, are offered lifetime support through the satellite office as well.

The best way to maximize the benefits offered to alumni is to stay connected to the university, Moorefield said. Whether that means returning to campus for Homecoming, attending chapter events, serving on the Elon Alumni Board or giving an annual financial gift, staying involved with Elon allows alumni to expand their Elon network and continue to grow personally and professionally.

“Students who attend Elon have a great experience here, and so it's an opportunity to continue that wonderful experience as an alum in a different way than the experience you had as a student,” Moorefield said.