LinkedIn made a serious play for high school students yesterday by introducing University Pages and updating their Terms of Service to allow for users as young as 14 years old in the United States. More than 200 institutions now have University Pages (examples here, here, and here) and thousands more will be given access over the next several weeks. See if your institution has a University Page by searching for it on LinkedIn’s education website, an updated site that is excellently structured to show the benefits of LinkedIn for numerous audience segments: prospective students, current students, alumni, schools, and employers.
In an initial message to prospective students, the aforementioned page reads, “Discover a world of colleges, career paths, and possibilities. Now you can research over 23,000 of them. Find out what’s happening on campus, what current students are studying, and what alumni are up to now. Their paths can help you figure out yours.”
Connections to real people in real jobs with real histories will be the difference maker with University Pages compared to other college search resources out there, who simply cannot compete with LinkedIn’s deep integration. LinkedIn’s promotional video for University Pages, embedded below, is targeted towards prospective students. It does a wonderful job demonstrating, in a fun, yet informative and believable way, how the benefits of LinkedIn’s deep integration could play out in real life.
LinkedIn makes the message for how institutions should approach the new University Pages is clear: “Engage with millions of prospective and current students, alumni, and parents.” As it usually is, the advice to engage is spot on, but even more so in this case because of the interconnectedness of users and relationships. Assuming prospective students take a look (more on that in the next paragraph), you have to think there will be a decent amount of inquiries from students through the platform.
Will Prospective Students Care?
The already lingering and likely obvious question for those in admissions, communications, and marketing who are invested in their institution’s online presence: Will this demographic really start using LinkedIn? After an initial period of resistance, I believe they will. My instinct tells me there’s significant reason for future students to invest at least a portion of their time on a professionally-focused social platform like LinkedIn. I also believe there is a real opportunity over time for LinkedIn to become the go-to resource for prospective students searching for colleges and universities online. It’s an ultra-competitive world for students; one with a growing emphasis on personal branding, portfolios, and technical chops. But more than any of those, it’s a world where online connections mean offline connections. It’s not just about learning about a college or university from someone who’s been there, it’s about seeing the journey they’ve taken and being inspired to dream about yours.