As high school and college kids head back to school this fall, they'll have a new tool, courtesy of LinkedIn, to help them get ahead. The professional site aims to assist young adults with determining the best educational path with "University Pages," a feature launching Monday as LinkedIn simultaneously announces that it will welcome future professionals into its fold.
With University Pages, 200 higher education facilities are setting up the equivalent of all-in-one virtual recruiting kiosks, student centers, and alumni hubs. The pages, operated by university staffers, are meant to serve prospect, current, and past students, as well as parents, but come with a wealth of data that could help point career or major-perplexed kids in the right direction.
LinkedIn hasn't historically been a place where people can visualize the consequences of career choices like picking a major or a college with a particular bent, Director of Product Management Christina Allen told CNET. "We really want to make that available so we can help students make more informed decisions...when they're choosing an education."
On each University Page, the company will feature the alumni data it has collected from existing members in interactive chart form so that prospective students can see where college alumni have gone on to work and in what positions, where alumni live now, and what they studied in school. Allen calls this the "insights piece," of the new product, and its intended to be a career-path "cheat sheet."
The pages, of course, also come with social features characteristic of the rest of LinkedIn. Universities can share photos and videos, page visitors can pose questions, and alumni can return to share their nuggets of wisdom. People can also follow University Pages to receive updates from schools in their feed.
Perhaps must fun for the young men and women who envision themselves as the next famed CEO, astronaut, or author is the notable alumni module. Here, on the right side of each University Page, people can click to cycle through a university's most distinguished and successful alumni.
The product makes LinkedIn essential to a younger generation of people who may have viewed the service as solely for old folks and less enticing than their preferred social networks for diversion.
Kids today are pretty serious about their careers, Allen said. "We want to renovate the brand to make them feel welcome and invited."
The company already counts 30 million students and recent graduates as part of its network. Students were the fastest-growing audience segment for LinkedIn last year, and the trend seems likely to continue.
But first things first. Come September 12, the professional site will make its network of more than 238 million people accessible to high school-aged kids around the world for the first time. In places like the U.S., Canada, and Germany, youngsters 14 and up can will be able to sign up to participate and get a leg up on the college selection process.
LinkedIn worked with the 200 universities launching pages Monday. Allen said that thousands of additional schools will get access to University Pages in the weeks ahead.