Facebook may have lost its cool among teens, but that hasn’t stopped its stodgier cousin, LinkedIn, from making a play for the high school set.
The social networking site popular with professionals introduced University Pages from 200 popular colleges. The pages, administered by the schools themselves, allow prospective students to tap into the power of LinkedIn’s database to see what types of jobs alumni land after graduation and at which companies.
In a blog post yesterday announcing University Pages, Christina Allen, director of product management, called the product a “cornerstone of our strategy to help students at every critical milestone from campus to fulfilling, successful careers.”
Starting September 12, the site will allow students as young as 14 years old to join the site, “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.”
Schools can use the University Pages to reach out directly to potential students about campus news and activities, as well as local recruiting efforts in a candidate’s hometown. Students can use the pages to ask questions of alumni, staff and admissions officers.
The career focus of the University Pages may be of particular interest to students and their parents, as skyrocketing tuition and soaring student debt has increased interest in the return on a college investment after graduation.
The pages also offer a list of each school’s notable alumni, and links to pages of related schools. The social network expects thousands of schools to sign on to the program, which will also give them a new way to connect with alumni for fundraising purposes.
As they stand now, University Pages won’t replace other college comparison tools and sites that offer more robust data on a school’s admissions and enrollment, but it’s easy to see the social network adding such info in the future.
If successful, the move could ultimately mean more growth for LinkedIn, which blew away Wall Street expectations in the second quarter. The site currently has a reported 238 million users, but only 15 percent of them are below age 24, according to Quantcast.
Still, LinkedIn spokeswoman Crystal Braswell says college students and recent graduates are the fastest-growing segment of LinkedIn users, so it was a natural evolution for the platform to expand to high schoolers.
“These are the professionals of tomorrow,” she says. “We’re bringing them on board, providing access to a network … and letting them start to build a brand and a professional identity that will carry them through college and then through the transition into the workplace.”