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A Hidden Bonanza - Alumni Magazines
by Robert S. Nailor

You’ve seen them in doctors’, dentists’, legal offices or perhaps a friend’s home-–that great reminder of a possibly wild and oft remembered youth, the college alma mater magazine.

If you attended an Ivy League university or college, you probably receive them on a regular basis. You open it up, scan the pages and reminisce those by-gone days. Perhaps you may even read about one of your classmates. The magazine is an update of your past.

Let me point out that the main reason the alumni magazine exists is to create the urge to donate money to the college. The pages are laden filled with quiet requests for support.

But where do all those articles come from?

Some colleges have their own full-time editorial staff for the alumni magazine, others are shoestring affairs that barely make it from issue to issue.

This is where you come in. Between both ends of the editorial spectrum, from full-time to part-time staff, input is needed from outside the hallowed halls. Alumni magazines can only insert so much current news and financial information before they become just another piece of junk mail.

It is the personal articles, those stirring stories of other alumni, that grab the reader’s attention. It is these pages that tear at the alumni’s heart and purse strings.

It is these articles that YOU need to write.


There are several ways to put an article together. One example is to find somebody local that has invented, discovered, excelled or done some great charity job, such as a computer manager who recreates Indian lore for the local Scouts and received a community award for his efforts. Find out if this person attended college, where and when.

Now you need to contact that college and pitch your story. Be sure to send samples of prior work and a resume. Be professional at all times.

If the college is nearby, you may be able to schedule an appointment with the magazine editor. If you do, while you sell your idea, pick his brain for future possibilities.

The article must always tie back to the institution and reflect well upon it. It must also give a warm, fuzzy feeling to the reader so they will donate money. Attempt to research the school and find out everything you can to link it all together. The Internet is a great resource for college information, including classes, students (current and past) and background.

While researching you may find that the alumni magazine of your choice will have guidelines. Read the magazine’s requirements and write within those guidelines. Make sure you get familiar with the style by reading some back issues.

Approximately anywhere from 10% to 75% of the articles that appear in alumni magazines are from freelance writers. This is dependent upon the college and funding available. Therefore pay can be from a few dollars upward to $1000 for the right article to the right magazine. Most alumni magazines attempt to be commensurate with their national counterparts.

Most alumni magazines are published monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually; again dependent upon resources and size of college.

Create and develop a relationship with the editor and you may find yourself being given assignments that pay.

© Copyright 2001, Robert S. Nailor

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