Social Networking and College Admissions

My title may have made you think about admissions people wanting to spy on your Facebook posts or Twitter tweets. There has been a lot of angst lately about the ability of college admission committees to investigate increasingly personal aspects of the applicants who seek admission to their schools. Well, that's not what I'm talking about today. The point here is how social media can help applicants, rather than create stress.

There's lots of buzz about social media as it applies to colleges and college admissions. Let's take a look at some of what has been written about a relatively new player in that arena: LinkedIn the “World's Largest Professional Network." Have you heard of LinkedIn? If not, you should investigate it. I found one interesting article on that addresses LinkedIn's college-related social media initiative.

The thrust of the article is “Could LinkedIn give students an 'in' with college admissions?" In today's frenetic and high-pressure college admissions world, any edge applicants can get is worth investigating. Writer Sumi Das notes, “With a lowered age requirement, LinkedIn hopes to welcome more teens. Its university pages aim to provide prospective students with info on how they're connected to a school and suggestions on how to achieve career goals."

Das goes on to mention:

Starting this college admissions season, teens can use the professional networking site LinkedIn in two ways: to research universities and to create profiles highlighting accomplishments that would otherwise be hard to include in a traditional application. LinkedIn made these features possible by lowering the age requirement for users to 14 in the United States and by launching what it calls university pages.

What are these “University Pages" and how might they be able to help you? What are others saying about this new way to network college-minded young folks and institutions of higher learning?

Larry Dignan, writing in, explains:

LinkedIn has launched university pages for students trying to assess where to attend as well as start thinking about careers. The company has also lowered its [membership] age to 13, down from 18. Add it up and the LinkedIn's moves are designed to increase reach as well as bolster frequency.

After all, if LinkedIn can get career minded people young with a university hook it can be the resume and networking tool for a good 50 to 60 years.

LinkedIn's new age limit will depend on country. For instance, the U.S. has a minimum of 14 as does Canada, Germany, Spain and Australia and the age is 18 for China …

LinkedIn's university pages will be open to high school students beginning Sept. 12.

This move from LinkedIn is similar to when Facebook opened up its network and expanded into new groups. Facebook went from exclusive to universities to a place your mom can join (much to your chagrin).

Dian Schaffhauser's excellent article in Campus Technology attempts to explain everything we need to know about LinkedIn's University Pages:

This summer, LinkedIn announced University Pages, giving schools the opportunity to create a more structured and consistent presence on the social network. Hundreds of institutions have already jumped on board–with 200 more pages going live each week, according to the site–lured by the chance to reach LinkedIn's fastest-growing demographic: students and recent graduates. As of August 2013, that segment stood at about 30 million strong among LinkedIn's 238 million members worldwide …

… But like any new campus endeavor, getting the most out of your institution's University Page takes some fine-tuning. Campus Technology has reviewed some four dozen blogs, articles, advisories, videos, and webinars and checked in on dozens of LinkedIn University Pages to bring you this compilation of guidance …

… For most schools, LinkedIn will become one of several useful channels to reach out to potential, current, and former students and others with an interest in the institution …

So, what does this all mean to you, a high school student either currently in the heat of the college admissions process, one who is beginning to anticipate the challenge of finding the right schools to which to send your application, and even a current college student thinking about the best path to a rewarding career?

University Pages comprise a marketing tool for colleges and universities to expand their networking tools to reach potential students. In my view, I believe that this will result in much more highly targeted marketing efforts. If you're a high school junior, you may have already begun to fill your green garbage bags with those heavy, glossy college promotional materials that keep stuffing your mailbox as a result of the College Board selling your name to hungry college marketing people.

To put a cap on all this, then, check out what Christina Allen says on her LinkedIn blog, where she gives a personal, real-life example of what University Pages can do for you. She says, in part:

… 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.

Check out some of the 200 universities who have adopted their pages, including INSEAD, New York University, University of California San Diego, Fundação Getúlio Vargas, University of Michigan, Villanova, Rochester Institute of Technology, University of Illinois, and many more. Over the next few weeks, thousands more schools will be given access to their University Pages. Learn more about what LinkedIn has to offer for education here

So, boys and girls (and probably Moms and Dads, too), be sure to add LinkedIn to your social media inventory. You never know where those links might lead.


Be sure to check out all my college-related articles at College Confidential.