As LinkedIn targets a new demographic with a new feature that lets high school students learn more about colleges and universities, people in higher education in Missouri are taking note.
LinkedIn introduced University Pages last month, and the social media site for professionals opened up to high school students on Sept. 12. Now, users as young as 14 can utilize the site to help navigate the college selection process. Students curious about a school can access its page and contact alumni and others involved with the school to obtain information.
The University of Missouri-Columbia was one of the first universities to set up a University Page, according to Ry Colman, coordinator of e-engagement for the Mizzou Alumni Association. Colman said he can’t speak for the university as a whole, but the alumni association sees the benefits.
“We see it as an opportunity for alumni and the alumni association to post things on the page to allow students to see if it’s a university they would want to go to,” Colman said.
MU does not have a specific strategy for its University Page at this point because the expansion was so recent. However, Colman says it will give universities a chance to promote types of jobs for which it can prepare its future students.
“Since LinkedIn is so career-driven, it really brings in that aspect of college,” Colman said. “It’s really important to be on all platforms of social media to really be seen on all sides.”
Jason Baudendistel, a Springfield-based LinkedIn consultant and author of a book about LinkedIn marketing, also sees the site’s new offering as a big opportunity for schools.
“Colleges have to find ways to seem like they’re more than just part of the pack,” he said. “They must treat themselves like a company. They’re still a brand trying to get the best students to enroll.”
Like MU, Missouri State University has joined University Pages but has yet to develop a specific strategy for how to use its page. However, Courtney Wendel-Stevenson, a new media specialist at Missouri State, said the school is eager to connect with prospective students.
“We look at it as a great way to reach a broader high school audience,” Wendel-Stevenson said. “It’ll be interesting to see if this new audience uses it, and I think it can be a great resource for them, especially the high achievers.”
Baudendistel also noted the opportunity University Pages can provide for motivated high school students.
“It’s a good thing to give the extra step up to those people who are more driven and ambitious,” he said.
Although schools like MU and Missouri State have been quick to embrace LinkedIn’s new feature, others have yet to utilize University Pages — especially at the high school level. Representatives from a total of six high schools in Columbia, Springfield and St. Louis said they were unfamiliar with University Pages.
The University of Missouri-Kansas City has looked into University Pages, but the school has not done anything about it, according to John Martellaro, the school’s director of media relations.
“We’ll watch it and see where it goes,” Martellaro said. “And if it takes off, I think there is a strong possibility we will use it.”