LinkedIn Monday rolled out University Pages, "one cornerstone of our strategy to help students at every critical milestone from campus to fulfilling, successful careers," said Christina Allen, director, product management, in a blog post announcing the new product.
LinkedIn has teamed with more than 200 colleges and universities on University Pages. Each institution has its own dedicated page, providing an outlet for information about the schools and what they have to offer, news and interaction among prospective students and the campus community.
According to Allen's blog post, University Pages will enable users to search on schools and see what graduates of the institutions have accomplished, as well as connect with alumni, building a "lifelong professional network."
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The University of California Riverside was one of the University Pages beta testers. Ralph Ambrose, programmer analyst for Academic Information Systems at UC Riverside, said the product will enable users to see where alumni are living and working post-graduation, and what industries they are working in. "LinkedIn has done a lot to identify and better standardize how people enter the school they attended so that the data provided on the University Page is more complete," said Ambrose.
As the parent of both a high school senior making the college visit rounds and a college junior considering studying abroad next year, I am very interested in checking out University Pages further. The decision about which college to attend is stressful, to say the least, and it's difficult even to decide which colleges to visit, what to look for while you're there, and how to gauge what life on campus will really be like -- versus what you see in glossy brochures and what you hear from glossy tour guides. (Don't even get me started on the financial aid process.)
To be sure, there are lots of places you can go to get information on different schools, but many times these sites just add to, rather than filter out, the noise. And, because University Pages is from LinkedIn, a tool that every professional I know uses, it would seem that the product has the potential to carry over into students' eventual work lives, giving University Pages a huge leg up over other options that are out there.
More than 200 colleges and universities have adopted their respective pages, including New York University, University of California San Diego, University of Michigan, Villanova, Rochester Institute of Technology and University of Illinois. During the next few weeks, thousands more schools will be given access to their University Pages, according to the LinkedIn blog, which includes a video offering tips for students.
University Pages will be available to high school students on Sept. 12, according to Allen.
Follow Deb Donston-Miller on Twitter at @debdonston.