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An alumnus (plural alumni) is a graduate of a school, college, or university. An alumnus can also be a former member, employee, contributor or inmate as well as a former student. In addition, an alumna (pl. alumnae) is "a female graduate or former student of a school, college, or university". If a group includes both genders, even if there is only one male, the plural form alumni is used.
An alumnus or alumna is a former student and most often a graduate of an educational institution (school, college, university). According to the United States Department of Education, the term alumnae is used in conjunction with either women's colleges or a female group of students. The term alumni is used in conjunction with either men's colleges, a male group of students, or a mixed group of students:
The term is sometimes shortened to "alum", which stands for "an alumna or alumnus".
"Alumni" (a plural form) is often incorrectly used as a singular form for both genders; for example, "I am an alumni of the university", as opposed to "I am an alumnus/alumna of the university." This usage is erroneous in formal or historical usage. The prevalence of this usage is probably due to an ignorance of Latin grammar and the fact that printed documents and university merchandise almost always use the plural form of the word.
At most old UK schools (especially independent schools and grammar schools), New Zealand schools, South African schools, Sri Lankan schools, a few universities in the UK, and to a lesser extent in Australia and Canada, the phrases old boy and old girl are traditionally used for former school pupils, and old member or member (or "alumnus" in Australia and New Zealand) for former university students. Some Australian co-educational schools use the gender-neutral old scholar. At the Royal Military College of Canada, the phrases ex-cadet or former cadet and member of the old brigade are traditionally used, as are college numbers. Another example is the term old corps, in reference to alumni from the Virginia Military Institute. Owing to this general restriction of the phrase to schools for the social elite, the phrase is normally associated with the aristocracy of the UK.
The term "Old Boys" is also used as part of many sporting associations and clubs worldwide. Famous examples include Argentine football club Newell's Old Boys and New Zealand rugby union club High School Old Boys RFC.
Some schools use a specific term clearly linked to the school name, such as "Old Pauline", "Old Etonian", "Old Harrovian", "Old Carthusian", "Old Oswestrian", "Old Churcherian", "Old Knox Grammarian", "Old Colcestrian" or "Old Reptonian" (old boys of, respectively, St Paul's School, Eton College, Harrow School, Charterhouse School, Oswestry School, Churcher's College, Knox Grammar School, Colchester Royal Grammar School and Repton School), the school's location, such as "Old Chelmsfordian" (King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford) or "Old Mancunian" (Manchester Grammar School); or a more obscure one, such as "Old Citizen" and "Old Gregorian" for those of the City of London School and Downside School. Other UK examples include "Old Alleynian" (Dulwich College), "Old Blue" (Christ's Hospital), "Old Dunumian" (Down High School), "Old Novocastrian" (Royal Grammar School, Newcastle upon Tyne), "Old Mid" (Trinity School of John Whitgift) and "Old Elizabethan" (Queen Elizabeth's Hospital).
In Scotland, the term former pupil (FP) is also used, especially when referring to sports teams of a school as well as "Academical" or "Accie" in the case of schools with Academy in their name, such as Hamilton Academical.
Some US schools, such as Texas A&M University, prefer former student.
The World Student Christian Federation uses the term "senior friends" for its alumni.