LinkedIn University Rankings: Now What?

The new LinkedIn university ranking is based exclusively on premier career outcomes. With new data also comes new questions: So what? Now what?

Let's start with what these rankings are.

Essentially, based upon a company's ability to recruit and retain talent in a specific field (design, computer science, etc.), they are given a score. The more applicants to their openings results in a higher score. The less turnover they see of those jobs, again, the higher the score. Then, LinkedIn has looked to see which schools' grads are getting hired into those prestigious companies to give a basic correlation score: grads from University X are more/less likely to get hired into Prestigious Company Y. The higher the correlation, the higher the school's score.

This score doesn't replace anything. And like any scoring system, it has its weaknesses (RISD's low score for design roles really stood out). Heck, the grandaddy of them all, the US News ranking, is rife with challenges.

Then, here we are with a new ranking that doesn't replace other rankings. So what?

Our answer is in better understanding why these rankings even exist. What's the point of this ranking? There are lots of reasons, of course, and some of them are designed to advance LinkedIn's goals, but that's ok. And it also doesn't matter. What matters is that we as an industry and our constituents - students, alumni, staff, and prospects - are looking at them.

Why, then, would our alumni and others be looking at those rankings. Because the easiest way for our alumni to measure ROI on having gone to school is career outcomes. It doesn't matter if that's right or wrong. We have to stop having that debate and accept that our alumni are looking at the ways their alma maters have impacted their careers. Of particular note is the focus of our prospective and current students and young alumni on the quid pro quo.

Heck, when President Obama suggests that career outcomes should be tethered to education funding, you know how the public discourse is shaping up.

So embrace it.

That brings us to: Now what?

Career support is paramount to strong relationships with your alumni - young and established alike. They need reminders of how their alma maters have shaped their careers. More importantly, they need YOU and their alma mater to offer platforms for connecting and thriving in their careers.

The trick is giving your alumni the tools and resources to shape their outcomes. How many of your alumni events are career-centric? How many different ways can events drive dynamic networking? Panels with established alumni in a specific field or function speaking to a broader group of alumni who are young or switching paths are powerful opportunities. So are mentoring cohorts and programs.

Whatever connections you can provide will do wonders for establishing the enduring sense for an alumna that her degree has directly influenced her success and that her continued engagement as an alumna will further advance her career goals. Research has even shown that alumni who explore their careers through their alma maters are significantly more likely to give. If you'd like to see that analysis, drop us a line!

Nick Zeckets