LinkedIn launches University Pages.
SAN FRANCISCO - LinkedIn is aiming to become the de facto connection destination between universities and students.
The professional networking giant Monday is both lowering the age bar to 14 in the U.S. and launching University Pages in a bid to help students network around schools.
University Pages could drive a new audience to LinkedIn and create a specialty category with appeal to social-networking-savvy younger audiences facing an ever more competitive educational landscape.
"If you think about the resources that are available to teenagers at this time, you don't really have this ability," says Altimeter Group analyst Susan Etlinger.
With many students laser-focused on college preparation at younger ages, and in schools where competition grows harder, having an edge such as knowing somebody connected with the school to write a recommendation could make a difference.
Billy Ceskavich, a 21-year-old senior at Syracuse University, said he recalls the "daunting process" of researching universities when in high school, wishing it were easier. Ceskavich says that LinkedIn already appeals to his generation of socially networked peers.
"It would have been really interesting to get a firsthand account from schools, to get insights from students of a similar age on LinkedIn," Ceskavich says.
University Pages is launching with 200 pages from schools to start. LinkedIn expects to have thousands more "coming soon" online. LinkedIn's 240 million professional-networking members provide a hulking database of job-track information valuable to students. Students will be able to visit a University Page to see whether the alumni work in their field in large numbers and at which companies the graduates have a bigger presence.
Along with updates from the university, students get the chance to ask questions of faculty, staff, alumni and students to get insight into a school's culture and strengths. University Pages also will have a Notable Alumni tab to scroll through on schools to see which business leaders went to a university.
"We're trying to provide real value for prospective students," says Christina Allen, director of product management at LinkedIn.
Scott Martin, USA TODAY