Thinking about what you’re going to do after college can be a scary thought. An easy way to relieve some of that fear is by creating a solid network of professionals while you’re in college. Networking can help ensure that you’ll have connections that can help you advance in your desired field of work once you graduate college. When determining the best colleges for networking there are a number of things you should consider, especially student-faculty ratio, placement rate and the number of networking clubs. And while it’s great to connect with your fellow classmates, you’ll gain more knowledge from those who currently spend their days working in your dream industry— ahem— go and peep those notable alumni and see how well current students rate their professors. It’s important that you choose a college that can help you build a strong network before you’re out in the real world.
Check out these top 10 colleges for growing your network.
10. St. Lawrence University
How can you connect current students with supportive mentors? This is a question that St. Lawrence University constantly works to answer. With passionate, supportive alumni and over 14 networking resources, this university is doing a fantastic job at just that.
Using their tight knit community is a big way that St. Lawrence helps students build their professional networks. St. Lawrence has an 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio and a placement rate of 95%. This university also provides students with the opportunity to connect with Laurentian Connection. This digital platform creates a space where parents, students and alumni can come together. It offers networking and mentorship opportunities between alumni and students, as well as a way to connect with others in the St. Lawrence community. The Laurentian Network is a place where students can feel supported and comfortable when reaching out and building professional relationships.
In addition to their digital platform, St. Lawrence’s alumni strive to connect with current students through organizations such as Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Across Laurentians, or IDEAL. IDEAL’s goal is to connect students with alumni through networking, events and mentoring opportunities while embracing the diversity of the members of their community.
9. Gettysburg College
With passionate and dedicated professors guiding you, a whole new world of networking opens before your eyes. Not only do professors help you develop essential skills, but they can also help connect you with professionals. Gettysburg College provides students with the opportunity to engage in research and work side by side with professors and faculty members. This is an amazing way to establish a relationship with your professor that will help you create connections and possibly secure jobs in the future.
On top of that, Gettysburg College has a student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1 and a 98% placement rate. Studies show that 100% of the professors at Gettysburg feel passionate about what they teach and 93% are approachable and helpful. Gettysburg also provides students with opportunities through their alumni network of over 30,000 past graduates. This network is determined to provide career guidance and networking opportunities to students through job-shadowing, coordinating internships and holding networking events.
Gettysburg College recently launched a program called Community GIGs, or Give Ideas to Gettysburg. This allowed student teams to do consulting with local non-profits within the Gettysburg community.
“It is a great opportunity for them to network in the community and help the community at large as well. Through this program students learned design thinking, [and] humble consulting methods. They did it in teams so that they were able to network with each other. They formed tight knit groups that will be able to share and help each other throughout their job searches and their next steps as well,” Executive Director of Career Engagement Marc Goldman said.
This school is determined to think out of the box and do whatever it takes to help their students build their networks.
8. Drew University
Formal networking can be a scary thought to many students. Drew University’s student engagement committee recognized this and decided to implement casual networking opportunities for their students. Alumni would show up to residence halls to provide students with a way to meet professionals and practice networking with little to no pressure.
Drew has a placement rate of 94% and a student-to-faculty ratio of 12:1. On top of that, according to 95% of students, the professors at Drew come off as approachable and passionate about what they do. Drew’s alumni association plays a crucial part in making sure that their university achieves their goal of success for their students.
The Launch program is another way that Drew’s alumni help students network. This program enables the university to solicit short term projects from alumni and others that students can work on and complete to help them develop transferable skills.
“Students have access to the people that post the project, and they also get a suggestion of three other potential mentors on the connect platform. If they are hesitant to go to this VP who just posted a project, they can go to one of these other mentors and reach out to them for suggestions,” Drew Alumni Director Carol Bassie said.
Creating a strong community between their alumni and students sets Drew University on top when it comes to networking.
7. Smith College
Calling all of the ambitious women out there! Smith College is a women’s college founded in 1871 for the purpose of providing equal educational opportunities for women. Over 140 years later, Smith has gone far beyond their initial goal. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1, classes can feel more personable for students. Smith College also has a placement rate of 89%.
In addition to providing higher education for women, this college created an outstanding network of over 48,000 alumnae who help current students network, discover internships and score jobs. Smith’s passionate alumnae network help students with mock interviews, review resumes and speak at events. Smith also provides a student ambassador program where alumnae volunteer to act as a bridge between the current students and alumnae.
“Smith definitely has a lot of programs that are designed to facilitate creating networks. There is definitely a strong network of alums too,” Smith senior Callie Slevin said. “Networking is definitely something that I am working on. It is something that is talked a lot about at Smith, and I anticipate that it will become a big part of my future.”
And get this, 100% of students feel that Smith College provides them with approachable professors who are passionate about what they teach. Professors take time to get to know the students and make them feel heard. The college also provides monthly networking events. Smith’s combination of dedicated alumnae and excellent faculty make this college a great place to build a network that will help students enter the working world confidently.
6. Claremont McKenna College
How amazing would it be to travel to New York City, Los Angeles or Washington D.C. for the sole purpose of networking and learning more about your desired industry? Well, Claremont McKenna Colleges make those dreams come true with annual organized student-networking trips with alumni hosts!
“What we are trying to do is to really immerse our students into what it would be like to work in that city and work at any of these types of companies in those industries. We go to locations where industries are centered. For example, we would go to New York to look at all of the opportunities in financial services, or we would go to San Francisco in the Bay Area to look at consulting,” Director of Student Opportunities Ursula Diamond said.
Claremont McKenna has a student to faculty ratio of 8:1, which allows students to receive a lot more attention and help with their education. This also increases the likelihood of building relationships with professors which can build students’ networks. This college also has a placement rate of 96 %. On top of that, the professors at Claremont Mckenna are highly praised. 93% of their students claim that professors are ardent and 100% of them say they’re welcoming and helpful.
Claremont McKenna’s alumni are heavily involved in the lives of current students. They strive to help in any way they can, from conducting mock interviews, hosting students for job shadowing or grabbing coffee with small groups and discussing their career with potential students. Just another way that Claremont McKenna is providing their students with connections anywhere they look.
5. Amherst College
Amherst is the complete package! They have a student to faculty ratio of 7:1, a placement rate of 95% and over 23,000 alumni. This college not only provides a great place to learn and grow as a student, but also a large number of alumni that increases students’ likelihood of finding connections throughout the work force in the future. Over 3,500 members of that large group of alumni actively volunteer to mentor and connect with current students.
“The people that I reached out to within the alumni network were very responsive. I received at least three times the responses of reaching out to the alumni than I did with cold outreaches. It helps me establish these initial relationships because getting the initial responses can be the most important part,” Amherst junior Jenny Jung said.
Amherst also offers over eight student organizations that prioritize networking and creating connections for their members. A great example of the groups that create a place of connection for students is the Amherst College Public Health Collaborative (ACPHC). The ACPHC brings together students, faculty, alumni and health care providers to engage in issues of public health. Working alongside people in the professional world that have the same passions as you is a fantastic way to build your network.
4. Colgate University
Knowing that the college you’re attending takes your career development seriously can be a huge relief. With the combination of their engaged alumni and outstanding Career Services office, Colgate University relieves some of your job anxiety for the future. Colgate has an amazing student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1 and a placement rate of 98%. 96% of students believe that the faculty is fervent about their jobs and 92% feel as if faculty is accommodating.
Colgate’s “A Day in the Life” program is essential to the way that they help their students prepare for the work force. This job shadowing program is designed for first and second-year students to connect with alumni and parents to build their network and gain experience. Even if a student decides to switch majors after their job shadowing experience, the connections that they made will forever remain a part of their network.
Additionally, with the help of alumni, Colgate University provides students with over 10 professional networking programs that they can join. Each program is geared towards a specific industry which allows students to connect with people involved in their desired areas. For example, the Real Estate Council is a unique group designed to connect undergrads, alumni and parents involved or interested in the real estate and building industries.
3. Stanford University
From Tiger Woods to Herbert Hoover, Stanford has alumni all over the world, along with a very prestigious reputation. With over 205,000 alumni, choosing to attend Stanford University secures major connections by simply stating your place of schooling.
Stanford is the perfect place to build intentional relationships with classmates and professors with a student-to-faculty ratio of 5:1. They have a placement rate of 86%, and 90% of students believe that professors have passion for what they teach.
A spirit of service is at the heart of Stanford University, and that does not exclude the alumni. Over 11,000 alums serve and volunteer in a multitude of ways. Stanford presents their students with over 26 professional networking groups along with the opportunity to connect with alumni through interviews and Stanford Alumni Mentorships (SAM).
One of the major benefits of attending Stanford? You’re not only given network opportunities while in school, but also many career development opportunities once you graduate from student to alum. Stanford provides networking events and platforms like “Explorations.” Explorations is a connection platform that creates an easy way to find alum that are in the same area as you or graduated with the same major. It also provides a quick way to find networking events near you. Stanford is constantly implementing ways to help you develop connections and help you take a step in furthering your work career.
2. Virginia Tech
Ut Prosim, “That I may serve.” Virginia Tech’s motto doesn’t disappoint when discussing ways that this university helps students build their networks. With over 26 organizations that prioritize networking and the Hokie Mentorship Connect program, Virginia Tech is constantly serving their students.
Hokie Mentorship Connect is Virginia Tech’s brand-new platform and is one of the school’s biggest ways of serving both their alumni and current students. This is a platform where mentee and mentor pairings are made between students and alum. These connections are meant to help mentees in learning more about their industry and, of course, help students network.
“We have alumni give a lot of information to the system and students can go in and they can sort in different ways. ‘I am interested in somebody who works in Detroit,’ or ‘I’m interested in finding someone who works for the FBI because I am interested in that.’ This way they can identify and connect because that is really important for developing repour and being able to feel comfortable to ask questions,” Director of Career and Professional Development Donna Ratcliffe said.
Hokie Mentorship Connect also provides a platform where professionals post short projects so that students can gain real-world experience and branch out in their desired area of work. This program helps Virginia Tech achieve their goal of serving, one mentorship pairing at a time.
On top of this amazing platform, 89% of students believe that the professors are ardent, and 87% say that professors are accessible. Virginia Tech has a placement rate of 72% and a student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1. This college constantly serves their students when it comes to building networks.
1. Penn State
At Penn State, these lions feel dedicated to creating networking opportunities for their students that will power-start their careers and benefit them in years to come. This university has a student-to-faculty ratio of 15:1 and a placement rate of 89.8%. Penn State provides students with amazing professors, with 90% of students saying professors are eager and 84% believing they oblige their students. With over 645,000 alumni, Penn State dominates at providing connections throughout all areas of work.
Penn State constantly offers virtual networking events, career fairs and career coaching opportunities. All of these help students develop essential and transferable skills as well as provide them with professionals to develop meaningful connections.
A student can receive help with resumes and advice for upcoming interviews from career coaches that will ultimately help them make lasting impressions and create a larger network. The Blue and White Society at Penn State ensures that there is someone on campus that can help you connect with alumni and get involved in networking events.
An amazing opportunity unique to Penn State is the FastStart program. This mentoring program is geared towards first year students from under-represented backgrounds. Each student in this program pairs up with an alum so that they have someone that can help them start a network, answer questions and support them through their college experience. Penn State ensures that every student has the opportunity to build the best network that they can while in college.