Can LinkedIn disrupt the college admission process?

Can LinkedIn disrupt the college admission process?

Last week LinkedIn announced that they would be changing their terms and will be opening the LinkedIn community to teenagers. Although I believe this is a good move by LinkedIn and will encourage more networking by teens (please see my blog post), I do believe that parents, counselors and students need to be somewhat wary of the reasons behind this move.

Please take a moment to read the following excerpt from the Time Magazine article published last week. The company’s long-term aim with these moves is to upend the college-selection process in the same way it has changed the way people are recruited for new jobs. Deep Nishar, Senior Vice President for Products and User Engagement stated that his own experience with a teenage daughter currently weighing college choices showed him the need for a more data-driven way to evaluate schools. The current method of combing through thousands of brochures that happen to come through the mail doesnt do enough to help students find colleges that align with their interests. Its very untargeted, he says. We want to move away from the serendipity of these chance encounters into the science of appropriate life decisions based on the data that you have.

According to Time, University Pages offers colleges ways to more carefully target both prospective students and alumni. Messages can be sent to followers of a page based on location, industry or major. In its logical conclusion, colleges can move away from sending glossy brochures and really focus on students that are the best fit for the programs that they have to offer, Nishar says.

The path through the college admission process is multi-faceted, complicated and to some, simply overwhelming. It is prime for disruption, but I question how LinkedIn will provide better data to colleges & universities than the information derived from questionnaires that students fill out when they register with College Board and/or complete the questionnaires that accompany the standardized tests such as the ACT and the SAT. Many adult professionals fail in their attempts to create truthful, insightful and relevant LinkedIn Profiles so I am skeptical that students will build profiles that will allow LinkedIn to carefully target prospective students.

Like Mr. Nishar, I too look through the mail to see what brochures, postcards and other collateral materials my son receives on a daily basis. And while he does indeed receive information from an abundance of colleges that he is not interested in, I can see why many of them send these materials to him, based on what he has expressed as his academic and athletic interests as well as possible majors. While many times the information does indeed end up in the trash (or on his mothers desk), just this week he perused an attractive, glossy brochure for a school that he had not considered. He liked what he saw, did some further research, then talked with his college counselor about it who thought it would be a great school for him to consider.

And while LinkedIn may be able to find those students who they believe are the best fit for the programs their college and university clients offer, I dont believe that, even with all the data in the world, they will be able to predict that this data will automatically translate into the best fit for these students. After all, students are human beings and despite what they might put down on paper or online, they all have different personalities that to this day computer programs cannot accurately assess.

In my humble opinion, life decisions such as choosing an undergraduate college where a student hopes to spend the next four years should be based upon many points, including how your student reacts and responds to the stimuli of being on a particular campus for a visit. All the data points in the world will not and should not replace that experience. Theres nothing more accurate than spending time on a college campus meeting with current students, eating in the dining halls, and visiting with athletic coaches and faculty members to get a true feel for the culture of a college campus.

I will encourage my son to create a LinkedIn profile. Not because it will help him find his best fit college, but because the connections he will make and retain will be beneficial to his future personal and career endeavors.

What do you think Will you encourage your teen to create a profile and explore the university pages? We would love your comments.


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