For all of its remarkable success, I've sometimes wondered how exactly LinkedIn was going to be able to broaden its userbase to include younger users. Lets be honest here: very few 13 or 14 year olds are thinking about their careers; real life still seems pretty far away to a high school freshman.
But there is something that these kids are probably are beginning to focus on: where they want to go to college. And, just like that, it seems that LinkedIn as found the answer to how it will hook those users in while they are young.
LinkedIn is now launching new "University Pages," in order to "help students at every critical milestone from campus to fulfilling, successful careers," the company revealed in a blog post Monday.
These pages are exactly what they sound like: each one will be dedicated to a specific university, and will offer students information about that school that will help them decide if it is the right choice for their future career.
Each university will include information on notable alumni, as well as provide news and updates from around campus. The pages will also allow prospective students to see the careers paths that other graduates took. Most importantly, it gives students the ability to connect with those who already attend the school via LinkedIn, harnessing the power of the network in a way that no other site would be able to.
Of course, for this feature to be of any help, it has to actually be available to high school students. And so, starting on September 12th, LinkedIn will be making changes to its Terms of Service, allowing students 13 years and older, depending on country, to join the network, it was also announced Monday
"Smart, ambitious students are already thinking about their futures when they step foot into high school – where they want to go to college, what they want to study, where they want to live and work," Eric Heath, Director of Legal - Global Privacy and Public Policy at LinkedIn, wrote. "We want to encourage these students to leverage the insights and connections of the millions of successful professionals on LinkedIn, so they can make the most informed decisions and start their careers off right."
Here is now the new age restrictions will break down by country, complying with existing regulations: For the United States, Canada, Germany, Spain, Australia and South Korea, users will have to be 14 years old. It is going to be 16 for the Netherlands, 18 in China and 13 years old in all other countries.
200 universities have adopted pages so far, including INSEAD,New York University, University of California San Diego, Fundação Getúlio Vargas,University of Michigan, Villanova, Rochester Institute of Technology, and University of Illinois.
LinkedIn promises that thousands more schools will be given access in the next few weeks.
This feature is a smart move on LinkedIn's part. It is harnessing what is unique about the network to give students access in a way that no other site could.
Honestly, any social network could create pages like this; they actually seem pretty similar to the ones that Facebook already offers. And, sure Facebook could give you information about the school, its programs and all that kind of stuff. But what sets this feature apart is the ability to go deepers, and connect with students and alumni using the LinkedIn network to really see what the school was able to offer them on a personal level.
It has been a while since I had to look for a school I wanted to attend, but I remember that visiting the school, and then to people who actually went there, was always extremely helpful, if you could find someone who would really tell you what you needed to know. Now, with these University Pages, that is exactly what LinkedIn is giving these students. The chance to connect with students and alumni is invaluable.
LinkedIn has always had a bit of a problem getting younger users interested; now it has finally found a way to give them something that no other network can.
(Image source: http://blog.linkedin.com)