While Facebook used its clout with college students to expand to older users, LinkedIn seems to be doing the opposite. The company on Monday announced plans to target high school and college students with a new product called University Pages.
A LinkedIn spokesperson called the new Pages "the first step towards a longer vision to help students, parents, and university faculty get a head start on career mapping."
Each school's Page will include college decision-making criteria, such as where a school's alumni work and what they do. Students can connect with alumni and their current classmates. Universities can post updates about upcoming events, virtual tours and news.
Schools value such recruiting opportunities enough to pay for them, though LinkedIn is not charging for its Page service. Some colleges, for instance, pay a startup called Inigral from $10,000 to $50,000 every year to create a closed community of their students within Facebook in hopes that being connected to campus will sway undecided incoming freshmen.
Facebook Schools, which launched last year, is intended to provide similar campus-specific communities. But because LinkedIn already has 200 million professional careers on file, it is in a unique position to provide data about how schools' alumni have moved through their careers and can connect those alumni with each other and students in a professional context.
All schools will soon be able to claim their University Pages. The first 200 universities will launch their pages Monday.
On September 12, LinkedIn will make its profile pages available to high school students. If University Pages and the company's future efforts in education are successful, the company has an opportunity to bring on board a generation of professionals before they even hit the workplace, and open up a promising line of business in one swipe.
[Image: Flickr user Flattop341]