Difference Between Alumni and Alumnus

Often, people tend to confuse alumni with an alumnus. In some instances, they sound the same while they may seem very different in others. Nonetheless, there is a definite difference between the two worlds, and knowing the differences can help out on certain occasions and avoid any confusion. Alumni and Alumnus are two words that are often used interchangeably but do have a distinct difference. This article looks at the difference between the two words and identifies when they should be used.

Alumni vs Alumnus

The main difference between Alumni and Alumnus is that Alumni is a plural noun that refers to a group of male graduates or male and female graduates, whereas Alumnus is a masculine singular noun that refers to a single male graduate.

Alumni is a plural word used to call all the former students/pupils of school/college or university. The alumni of a higher or secondary education place are the former students who attended the school. They may be known as Old Boys or Old Girls, and they often keep ties with each other, meet regularly, and help support each other. These associations are usually organized into regional or national networks.

An alumnus is a former school, college, or university student. Alumni are also referred to as old boys or old girls, and ex-students or graduates of the institution are often referred to as its alumni. Treating an organization’s alumni well can be a strategic advantage for the organization. It creates goodwill among the organization’s ex-members and encourages them to remain involved in the organization or support it financially.

Comparison Table Between Alumni and Alumnus

Parameters of ComparisonAlumniAlumnus
DefinitionAlumni is a term used to describe a group of male or female graduates.One male graduate is referred to as an alumnus.
Grammatical formAlumni is the masculine plural form of the noun.Alumnus is the masculine singular form.
ClassificationAlumni may be utilized for a mixed-gender group or a group of guys.Alumnus is a term used to describe only a single graduate.
Former memberAlumni is a term that refers to former members, workers, donors, or others associated with a particular educational institution.The term “alumnus” refers to a former male student member.  
Gender-specificAlumna refers to a female alumni, while Alumnae refers to a group of female alumni.Only male graduates are included in Alumnus.

What is Alumni?

Alumni is the plural form of the Latin noun alumnus, a student who attends a school, college, or university. It was initially in the masculine gender, but it can be used for females as well. The word comes from the Latin roots al- (“away from”) and -munus (“gift”).

The use of “alum” to refer to a single former student is less common and would be understood by fewer people. In that sense, it is similar to the term “old boy,” which refers specifically to former male students. Alumni may also refer to an individual’s association with an institution, whether they are a past or present student or perhaps a member of staff. It is often used as a Latinate synonym for such terms as graduate and old boy or old girl; e.g., “He studied at the university between 2005 and 2009, before taking up his current position as alumni.”

Alumni relations are essential to colleges and universities because they provide financial support through donations and help to increase brand recognition through association. Alumni also serve as mentors and role models for current students.

What is Alumnus?

An alumnus is a male or female graduate of a school, although the term is used in the case of specific colleges and universities for former students who have graduated.

Taken directly from the Latin word “alumnus,” meaning “nourished,” the term was first used in the 1600s to describe a school-bred person. By the 1700s, it was used to describe those who contributed financially to their alma mater. 

In 18th century England, it also became associated with schools that were run by churches, as many religious schools took in orphans and poor children. After World War II, the word gained popularity in the United States when soldiers returned home from war and began attending college on the G.I. bill.

In today’s society, alumni are most commonly recognized for their contributions back to their school through fundraising activities and philanthropy. Alumni members often organize reunions for themselves and other alumni who have graduated within recent years. 

These reunions can take anywhere from 10 years to 30 years after graduation from a school, depending on how long the graduate left the institution.

Main Differences Between Alumni and Alumnus 

  1. Alumni is a term that refers to a group of male or female graduates, whereas Alumnus refers to a single male graduate.
  2. Alumni is the masculine plural form of the noun, while Alumnus is the male singular form.
  3. It can be used for mixed-gender or male-only groups, while Alumnus is usually reserved for single male graduates.
  4. Alumni are used for the particular educational institution; former members, employees, contributors, or others associated with a specific educational institution. And The word “alumnus” is used for an individual male graduate. 
  5. Alumna is a female alumni, and Alumnae is a group of female alumni, while Alumnus has only male graduates.

Conclusion

The word alumni and Alumnus is in Latin, and it is used primarily in a formal way to refer to former students of an educational institution. In the most general terms, an alumnus refers to any man who attended college but may also be used to refer specifically to a graduate or former student of a school, university, or learning center. Alumni may refer specifically to men who are graduates of women-only colleges.

Both alumni and Alumnus refer to someone who attended a school or university at some point in his or her life. The only difference between the two is gender. Alumni is the plural form of Alumnus, which refers to males only. If you don’t want to risk offending your audience by using a word that could be used for either sex, you can use the more formal term, graduate.

References

  1. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%252Fs11162-012-9271-6
  2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1057/ijea.2009.29
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