Why LinkedIn is the Best Tool for College Search
An important social media strategy for college-bound students is to appreciate LinkedIn as more than just another job board. Although LinkedIn quietly upped its minimum age last year from 14 years to 16 years, it still stands alone as an actionable college search tool.
LinkedIn is a massive database that aggregates data from over 500 million members to deliver incredibly useful information for discerning users. One of the best applications for this aggregated data is LinkedIn's college search function.
Just about every college now has an established LinkedIn page:
The college page provides essential information about each school and contains links to employees and alumni who are on LinkedIn. Students can choose to follow colleges they are interested in attending. News and other updates issued by these colleges will arrive in the student's LinkedIn newsfeed. These updates will help prospective students better understand the school's culture, values, and community.
LinkedIn also delivers searchable data about every one of its members who attended a particular school. LinkedIn aggregates where they live, where they work, what they do, what they majored in, what skills they possess, and how they are connected to the student. In the case of Harvey Mudd College, students will see the following information:
The information provided by each band delivers prospective students unmatched detail for their college search. In this example, students interested in studying engineering will see that Harvey Mudd alumni are working at Google, Microsoft, Apple and other highly-regarded technology firms. Each of these bands is also searchable and helps students identify and target specific alumni for networking connections.
In the following example, a student is searching Harvey Mudd's page for alumni who majored in engineering and who work as an engineer for Intel in the San Francisco Bay Area. The results will be dependent upon the size of the student's LinkedIn network as determined by their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-degree connections plus their group affiliations.
A student's ability to effectively network using LinkedIn is also subject to the strength of their LinkedIn profile. Most students are not knowledgeable about the ways to build a keyword-rich LinkedIn profile that will also serve as their public digital portfolio. Yet, with a discoverable and informative LinkedIn profile, students can get to know a college community in ways never before possible.
Students can engage with alumni either directly or by joining relevant LinkedIn groups.
LinkedIn also presents the prepared applicant with the opportunity to engage with and impress influencers within the college community. This is a high-level opportunity for genuine and smart engagement between an applicant and college faculty and adminisration.
The ability to stand out, convey good character, credibility, maturity, and readiness for an elite college education has never been more important. In the digital world, mastering social media as a tool is an essential 21st century skill.