LinkedIn announced Monday it's opening its social network to high school students.
The portal is known for connecting business professionals to jobs and career opportunities. Its new initiative called "University Pages" will open LinkedIn's doors to teens to help them prepare for college. Students may explore universities worldwide, engage alumni, expand opportunities and build their network.
The initiative begins Sept. 12 and is open to teens at least 14 years-old.
Villanova University is among the 200 universities with LinkedIn profiles that students may navigate for education pursuits and future career use.
Christina Allen of the Bay Area began the initiative three years ago after her daughter went through the college search process. Allen believed there had to be a better way to connect students with prospective colleges and help them "find their paths."
Allen said, "I knew that hidden in millions of member profiles were powerful insights about the career outcomes of educations from universities around the world. If harnessed, these insights could provide incredible value for students – helping them explore possible futures and build a support network to help them succeed on campus and beyond."
This new teen opportunity has drawn criticism by Josh Constine of TechCrunch. He believes childhood may be lost to LinkedIn.
Constine says, "Childhood used to be a time of self-exploration, but the Internet is pushing kids to define themselves early and put that facade on display."
LinkedIn calls itself the world's largest professional network with more than 238 million members in over 200 countries, and is available in 20 languages.
According to LinkedIn, University Pages will offer regular updates about campus news and activities from the schools themselves. Students may engage with both the campus community and alumni of schools.