LinkedIn is hoping to get young students thinking about college and their eventual careers - and broaden their user base in the process. To that end, the company has just announced a brand new initiative to welcome in teens, one that involves dropping the age limit for new members and setting up special University Pages for students to use as new resource.
"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," says LinkedIn's Christina Allen.
When LinkedIn says "high school students," they mean kids entering their last leg of the educational system before college. This means that the age limits for each country will be different - for instance the new minimum age to join LinkedIn in the United States will be 14 (this applies to Canada, Germany, Spain, Australia, and South Korea as well). LinkedIn will open up to teens in the Netherlands when they turn 16, and Chinese students will have to wait until they're 18. Every other country where LinkedIn is available will see their 13-year-old students joining the network.
The new University Pages will allow prospective students to check out news, information, notable alumni, and more. Of course, it will also allow these younger students to make connections with people associated with any particular university.
"Smart, ambitious students are already thinking about their futures when they step foot into high school – where they want to go to college, what they want to study, where they want to live and work. We want to encourage these students to leverage the insights and connections of the millions of successful professionals on LinkedIn, so they can make the most informed decisions and start their careers off right," says LinkedIn's Eric Heath.
These younger members will be offered a few safeguards - including special customer service routing and new safety resources. All minors will have default privacy settings that are more strict than those for people 18 and over.
All of this new privacy stuff will go into effect on September 12th. The new University Pages are already up and running, if you want to check them out.