They say it's never too early to get a jump-start on your career. Well, welcome to LinkedIn University.
The social network launched University Pages on Monday, making way for high school students to connect with universities and alumni in deciding their future.
"Through my relationships at LinkedIn, I knew that hidden in millions of member profiles were powerful insights about the career outcomes of educations from universities around the world," Christina Allen, director of product management, wrote on the LinkedIn blog. "If harnessed, these insights could provide incredible value for students."
On one hand, University Pages is a useful tool for students to form a mentor network with the right people. Most LinkedIn users already post their education information along with their work history.
But the way LinkedIn works, you're not interesting enough to contact unless you have an interesting work resume. For high school students who may have held one or two jobs (or none) during the course of their life, this is highly intimidating. There is already enough competition among the college-bound to have the best SAT or ACT score, the most extracurricular activities, or the best academic awards. Opening up LinkedIn to young kids now forces them to consider their professional lives too early and forget what universities are actually there for — to help them learn. After all, what is the point of an education if we are only thinking about the job it can help us get?
"If getting into college requires having a whitewashed internet presence full of accolades and honor societies, at least let the kids have a carefree personal life as well," Rachel Feltman writes at Quartz, in favor of helping kids separate their Facebook life from their professional life.
But getting into college shouldn't require having an Internet presence at all, let alone a "whitewashed" one. It's counter-intuitive for college admissions to base their judgment on a prospective student with such a one-sided view.
RELEVANT Magazine came out with an article in April titled "Instagram Envy Effect" about how our friends' internet lives always looks better than our real life because it's a partial truth hidden behind fancy filters and clever status updates. LinkedIn's University Pages is on track to become the same thing. In fact, it's currently happening. Who among us hasn't already tweaked the wording of their resume so that a job title like cashier transforms into "Expert in sales and maintaining transactions"? All of a sudden, the race for admission heats up even more.
It's unlikely that University Pages will become immediately popular among younger students (LinkedIn is still pretty unpopular among 20-somethings). On the other hand, according to Christina Allen, 200 universities around the world have already jumped on board and tweaked their pages for incoming students.
LinkedIn has accordingly dropped its minimum age to 14 years in the United States and to 13 years in most other countries. Everyone under 18 years will have different default privacy settings to limit publicly available information.
If University Pages does take off, let's hope that our eager students don't forget they're applying to school — not a company.