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Joining Your College Alumni Association
(Continued)

Sometimes you can go directly to the college to inquire about internship programs. The University of Virginia Alumni Association offers more than 100 internships that help students earn experience in marketing, accounting, even event planning. No wonder more than a third of all University of Virginia students are members.

At North Carolina State University, students can join the Student Ambassador Program, which allows them to serve as liaisons between alumni, administrators, and the student body. This is sort of mentorship in reverse, where the students get to inform the graduates about the school's activities.

Networking and mentorship programs will take very little of your time, so you'll still have plenty of time to devote to your family, friends, and other interests.

Scholarships
Need financial assistance with your degree program? Your alumni association can help with that too.

Thousands of college alumni associations offer scholarships to students, and you don't have to be a member to apply. Generally, the larger the school, the greater the number of scholarships. For example, the University of Virginia Alumni Association offers current students more than 100 scholarships, most of them named after the alumni who created them.

Scholarships are either merit- or need-based, so you will need to meet the specific guidelines offered by each scholarship you're seeking. To apply for a scholarship offered by your school's alumni association, go to the school's website to download an application for the scholarship you want or call the school's financial aid office to find out what's available.
to prospective and current BGSU students

Discounts
One of the most helpful benefits of alumni associations is that they allow you to get steep discounts on products and services. Here's just a sampling of the variety of discounts and free stuff that some schools offer only to their alumni association members.

- At the University of Florida, members can get discounts on school merchandise and auto insurance, participate in national and international travel opportunities, get special invitations to University events, get game ticket purchasing priority, and get a free annual subscription to the alumni magazine.

- The University of Virginia offers discounts on moving fees, car rentals, the school's art museum, insurance, hotels, KAPLAN Test Preparation, and local shopping.

- At the University of California, San Diego, students can get discounts on books, free admittance to the senior barbecue, buy-one-get-one-free tickets to university events, and savings on southern California attractions, hotels, and restaurants.

- In addition to many of these discounts, the University of Georgia offers an Alumni Student Loan Consolidation Program, which allows members to take advantage of low loan interest rates.

As an adult student, you might be especially interested in some of the more adult discounts some schools offer, including lower-cost AAA memberships, mortgage rebates, gym memberships, and golf green fees.

Campus and community activities
One of the greatest benefits of joining an alumni association while you're still a student is the opportunity to make a difference and have fun at the same time. Many alumni associations meet frequently to plan school activities and to take part in community events. The time commitment is generally minimal, which is a plus for busy adult students who may also work full-time.

The Boise State Alumni Association promotes school spirit by participating on both school and community service projects. At Kansas State University, student alumni members can help plan fun events throughout the year, including coffee breaks and snacks during finals, pre-game events, Watch Parties, and other fun opportunities.

Best of all, while working special events, you can make great contacts that will be of both personal and professional benefit to you in the future.

How to join your student alumni association
For a nominal fee of about $15 to $25 a year - some schools even offer membership to students for free -you can make your college experience so much more rewarding, and get a head start on your career path after college.

Of course, not all colleges and universities offer alumni association membership to current students. Some require you to be elected by someone else. For example, at the University of Evansville (Indiana), freshmen, sophomores, and juniors must be nominated by faculty, administrators, or current alumni association members to join the alumni association. But, if your school offers the opportunity, look into it.

To find out if your school offers this service, contact your school's office of alumni relations.

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Gregory Lloyd is a financial writer who has completed three college degrees while working full-time. He can be reached at lloydg@consultant.com.

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