College Marketing: The One Question to Ask When Writing Student and Alumni Profiles

QuestionsThe most common articles Dana’s Creative Services writes for college and university alumni magazines, websites, and blogs are profiles. Some students, faculty, staff, and alumni open up immediately and share tons of details, while others are men and women of few words.

After reading an article on “secrets to stronger feature articles” in a recent Writer’s Digest magazine issue, I came up with an idea for a question to start profile interviews. So far, it’s worked wonders to capture great details about the lives of alumni and for getting great background information on what motivates faculty to research and teach in their chosen field.

The first time I tried asking this question at the start of an interview, I learned about many of the major moments in my interviewee’s life. The student, who was a retired military veteran in his mid-50s enrolled in an online degree program, told me how visiting an orphanage on a community service mission during his military years led to his decision to pursue an online degree in social work. He also told me how an experience at age 11 contributed to his decision to pursue a degree in social work, too. I learned all of this—and more—because of one question.

So, what was this seemingly magic question? I asked him, “How did you get to where you currently are in your life journey?” Try it the next time you write a profile. Or let Dana’s Creative Services interview a student, faculty, or alum from your story idea list and write the profile for you.

Image credit: Stuart Miles/

About Dana’s Creative Services

Dana’s Creative Services is a writing and editing services company that helps businesses communicate better with their target audiences. Dana McCullough, owner of Dana’s Creative Services, writes and edits copy for brochures, newsletters, websites, blogs, magazines, and books. Her clients include universities, nonprofit organizations, magazine publishers, and book publishers nationwide. Dana has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and frequently writes and edits copy on higher education, genealogy/family history, health, and business topics.