- Seton Hall University’s LinkedIn page.
LinkedIn is going after the career-minded crowd before they’ve figured out their careers.
The professional social-networking site on Monday announced a new product called University Pages, describing it as a way for high-school students to interact with universities’ administration and alumni. At the same time, LinkedIn on Sept. 12 is dropping the minimum age of the site in the U.S. to 14 from 18. In other countries, kids as young as 13 can create an account.
LinkedIn shares were up nearly 2% in early trading.
LinkedIn launched with 200 universities, including New York University, Villanova, University of Michigan and others, and said that in the coming weeks thousands of other schools will be given access. LinkedIn said that one of its aims is to help students decide where to attend college, and that for the first time it will allow high-school students to create accounts.
We believe University Pages will be especially valuable for students making their first, big decision about where to attend college. Therefore, beginning on September 12, we will be making LinkedIn available to high school students* who can use LinkedIn to explore schools worldwide, greatly expand their understanding of the careers available, and get a head start on building a network of family and friends to help guide them at every milestone.
LinkedIn also said it wants to help students building out their pre-university resume of activities, honors and test scores, and ultimately help them find internships. It’s like the minor leagues for a future professional LinkedIn member.
A side-by-side look at Seton Hall University (alma mater) and the corporate page of WSJ’s parent Dow Jones shows that the pages share a similar structure and theme: news and features down the left column, social interaction–including alumni with LinkedIn accounts–down the right side.
Focusing more on higher education is a natural extension for LinkedIn, and one that opens up the company to a whole new territory of users–young people. LinkedIn says “smart, ambitious students are already thinking about their futures when they step foot into high school.”
There is certainly potential that the career-driven Rory Gilmores of the world will head over to LinkedIn to carve out a different experience than they have on other social networks like Facebook and Twitter — be it a more civil or professional atmosphere a fresh start, a more focused niche, etc.
For LinkedIn, it’s less about trying to grab a group of savvy social-media kids allegedly growing bored with Facebook, and more about plying that old General Motors concept: Start out the customers young and stay with them through different stages of their lives. A college prospect with a LinkedIn account is likely to become a professional employee with a LinkedIn account a few years later. (Crossing fingers for a good economy.)
As Mike Isaac on All Things Digital points out, though, going after the university crowd is a competitive space. Still, this isn’t just a land grab for teens. The alumni aspect (and all of the competitive juices that flow around that) has the potential to draw in even more members of the working world.
LinkedIn updated its terms of service as part of the decision. You can read more about those changes here.