There's nothing more exciting then hooking up with your former high school BFF (Best Friend Forever) through a free search for old classmates. With the popularity of online social networks, finding old friends -- and flames -- is possible, even if you live on the other side of the world.
Finding Former Classmates
Most individuals lose touch with one another when they graduate from high school or college. In the past, the easiest way to get in touch with was either through the school's alumni association or by waiting for a class reunion. Well, a lot has changed with the Internet and social networking. Nowadays, you can search for former classmates simply by registering with a few networks.
The most popular of all alumni social networks, Classmates has more than 40 million registered users in the United States and Canada. This service allows you to search for former classmates for free by their name, school, place of employment or military affiliation. The network also has a list of groups you can join with the hopes of connecting with a former schoolmate. As part of the free membership, you can:
- Create and edit your own profile (e-mail and web address may not be included)
- Add your name to the schools you attended
- Locate former classmates from class lists
- Post and read messages (e-mail and web addresses are not allowed)
- Post and view photo albums
- Create and read about school events or reunions
However, that is as far as the "free" part goes. Once you locate the person you want to connect with, any other personal information such as residence or e-mail address can only be obtained through a paid membership.
Based on the same premise as Classmates.com, Reunion offers a free search for former schoolmates, relatives, co-workers, lost loves and friends. Dubbed as one of the largest social networking sites, Reunion has more than 28 million members and growing. While the site does have a premium paid membership available, the free membership includes:
- Creating and viewing profiles
- Posting and viewing photos
- Searching for other members
- Creating and reading blogs
- Viewing newsfeeds about former classmates
However, to contact a Reunion.com member, plan a reunion or find out personal information about a former classmate, individuals must buy a premium membership.
LinkedIn is a business database comprised of more than 20 million professionals from all over the world. Once they are registered with the site, members can include current and previous schools and colleges. Individuals looking to connect with former classmates can simply enter the name of the school into the site's search engine. Since LinkedIn is based on network connections, there's a chance that by finding one former schoolmate, you will automatically be hooked up with other alumni.
The free portion of the membership is by far more lenient than those of alumni networks. On LinkedIn, you can also:
- Create, view and edit your profile
- Search for members by name, location, school, job affiliation, etc.
- E-mail other members
- Add others to your network
- Post and view photos
- Recommend someone
The most popular of all social networks with more 110 million registered users, MySpace allows you to create a public or private profile and search for others, all for free. These profiles can contain any number of identifying factors about yourself including:
- City and state of residence
- Education including schools and years attended
- Places of employment
- Family members and friends
To find a former classmate, simply enter any of the above mentioned factors into the site's free search. It's really that simple. If you locate a former schoolmate and his or her profile is private, simply send a message via the MySpace profile and with any luck, you will be added to his or her friend's list.
Originally created to bring classmates together from high schools and colleges, Facebook now also connects former students as well. With more than 70 million registered members, Facebook is now the second most popular social network, coming in behind MySpace. This free network allows you to join networks made up of schools, places of employment or geographic regions. It also lets you:
- Create and view profiles
- Post and view photos
- Send messages or "pokes" to other members
- Receive newsfeeds about individuals in your network
- Send virtual gifts to members (for a minimal fee)
- Create networks of friends from the same school, location or job
- Post and view classified advertisements
Additional Free Searches for Old Classmates
There are several smaller websites that offer free searches for former schoolmates:
Tips for Locating Former Classmates
When looking for an old high school or college schoolmate, there are several things you can do:
- Contact your high school or college's alumni association. Normally they can take your current information and pass it on to the person you are trying to locate.
- When registering at the online sites, make sure you use as much identifying information as possible, including maiden and married names, birthplace or city where you grew up, as well as friends you had in common and places where you hung out on weekends. Do not include any other personal information such as phone numbers or street addresses.
- Be patient. Locating a former friend can take time especially if the person does not want to be found.
- If possible, go back to your old neighborhood where you went to school or church and ask around. You never know who may remember the individual you are searching.