LinkedIn Targets Overachieving Tweens with New Campaign — and It's Bad News All Around

LinkedIn lists “humor” as one of the tenets of its company culture. Maybe its new scheme to turn tweens into mini professional networkers is a joke?

Until Monday, precocious teens had to hold off on registering with the site until they turned 18, but, assuming LinkedIn is not kidding, 13-year-olds can now celebrate their birthdays by signing up to show off their, um, professional accomplishments to potential employers and college recruiters. The new, lower minimum age is part of the launch of “University Pages”, a feature that will allow users to compare data on the careers of alumni of different colleges.

“These tools are meant to help students get a head start on career mapping and building a professional support network to help them through big decisions like choosing a campus or internship,” Julie Inouye, a spokesperson for LinkedIn, told Bustle in an email.

Because what’s really missing from the lives of teens is another avenue for comparing themselves with their peers and convincing themselves that every little thing they do has implications in the larger scheme of life.

According to Christina Allen, the Director of Product Management for LinkedIn, University Pages were born out of a benevolent desire to help her daughters’ friends make more informed decisions about colleges. Allen claims that for many high school students, choosing a college is “like a shot in the dark.”

Allen is wrong. Another flood of data is the opposite of what college applicants need.

The Internet is practically bursting with parasitic websites like College Confidential and The Student Room, which have monetized college applicants’ insecurity, hosting utterly pointless threads like “Princeton vs. Yale?” and “Should my daughter bring her horse to college?”

And then there are the Lists. Lists of colleges sorted by every imaginable variable: academic reputation, nightlife, admissions standards, endowment size, quality of cafeteria food, involvement of faculty, popularity of different drugs on campus. There are lists of the best lists.

But more data doesn’t necessarily translate to a better decision. You could visit a campus, study its brochure, talk to students and professors, and end up with a roommate whose snoring ruins your year. Or you could go to your safety school and find a teacher who changes your life. There are so many variables that it almost doesn’t make sense to study any of them.

Had “University Pages” existed when I was 17, I could have been scared away from Oxford if I’d seen that the most common employers of alumni are PwC, Deloitte, and Goldman Sachs. That would have been really unfortunate.

So go away, 14-year-olds. Do not “explore the careers” of thousands of alumni. This is not a constructive use of your time. Better to spend that time worrying about where you sit in the cafeteria or why your mom is ruining your life or whether you’re going to grow boobs. Seriously.