For many people, the moment they receive their diploma, whatever affiliation they had with their university ends. Others are less inclined to break ties so readily. Regardless of how they feel about the school, they are all part of what’s known as the alumni network.

Graduate from a university and you’re instantly ingrained in this collection of former students. Some schools have a modest network of people while others, like those that top this list, have an impressive grouping of living alumni representing the university's greatest values.

University of California, Berkeley

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This stately school stands out in the heart of Berkeley, California, which may be one reason why it was able to amass an alumni list some 500,000 students long. Known for working to represent minorities, Berkeley’s alumni are active members in the local community and an integral part of the school’s continued presence. Members of the Cal Alumni Association of Berkeley receive unique benefits and discounts.

Twenty-nine of Berkeley’s alumni went on to become Nobel Prize winners. Additional notable names include Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Olympic gold-medalist Natalie Coughlin, and actor George Takei.

Ohio State University

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The alumni association of Ohio State University spans at least 500,000 people now scattered across the nation. Members of the association enjoy perks like discounted access to local sporting events, a network of support, and a possible cover spot on the "Ohio State Alumni Magazine". Buckeye alumni can connect with others through a collection of clubs and societies found in cities like Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Newport Beach, Providence, and Baltimore.

Ohio State University has been attended by well-known figures like Yankees manager George Steinbrenner, author R. L. Stine, actress Patricia Heaton, and GM head of research Charles F. Kettering.

University of California, Los Angeles

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With just under 500,000 alumni, the University of California, Los Angeles has produced influential names spanning decades, from leading surgeons to some of today’s greatest entertainers. UCLA alumni can connect with one another through a periodic newsletter, an extensive directory of profiles, and a membership that provides access to exclusive benefits.

University of California alumni can also provide current students with mentoring across multiple subjects. Members are able to become part of the alumni network regardless of where they live, which encourages a growing network as the number of alumni grows past half-a-million.

Michigan State University

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James Caan, Sam Raimi, Steve Garvey, Bubba Smith, and Magic Johnson are just a few of the many names included in the 550,000-plus alumni that graduated from Michigan State University. Those who may not be so prominent still have access to the various alumni clubs and groups that offer community support across the nation.

Members enjoy unique benefits but also provide contributions and funding to scholarships and charities. These contributions help current Michigan State students and impoverished members of the community.

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

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The stunning university town of Ann Arbor has seen more than 575,000 students come and go through its doors. The alumni network is an extensive one that has made its presence known in various successful industries. University of Michigan’s “Michigan mafia” has had a significant presence on Broadway, and names like Larry Page, Dave Brandon, and Jim Buckmaster have led mega-companies like Google, Toys R Us, and Craigslist.

University of Michigan alumni are required to meet specific criteria based on their industry, including national recognition, military service, awards, and team management.

Indiana University

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More than 690,000 alumni of Indiana University have access to over 160 chapters and groups across the country. The growing network has access to a vast assortment of perks, including classes that cover music, test preparation, jewelry making, and current events. Educational getaways offer the chance to connect with other members and become part of the Indiana University culture.

Oscar-winning actor Kevin Kline, singer-songwriter John Mellencamp, basketball star Isiah Thomas, and screenwriter-producer Ryan Murphy all once walked the halls of Indiana University before joining the extensive network of alumni.

Pennsylvania State University

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This East Coast university has an ever-growing network of alumni that includes nearly 700,000 living alumni. Groups and chapters are scattered across every state, giving members of the massive network plenty of chances to connect with one another. The Penn State University alumni network provides members the opportunity to volunteer around their local community.

Notable figures who graduated from Penn State include actor-comedian Keegan-Michael Key, actor Jonathan Frakes, U.S. SEAL officer Michael P. Murphy, and famed photojournalist Steve McCurry.

The importance of alumni networks

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The alumni network is important as it can offer new students a resource of individuals willing to help in various aspects of the university. With these schools, there is no shortage of helping hands or, in many cases, notable names that occasionally return to address new students or welcome graduating classes into the post-college world. Alumni networks are an important part of keeping the influence of the school pertinent in both local and national communities.