As socially media savvy as our high school students are, they are remarkably out-of-touch with LinkedIn. I have covered the importance of LinkedIn with a recent podcast but until today, I have truly seen firsthand how important managing a LinkedIn profile really is. What if we don't teach our students about social media and LinkedIn? A generation ago, it would have been the equivalent of a teacher or parent allowing a student to go to college without the necessary skills of using a computer. Today, doing so would be unthinkable.
How do I know? I was part of that generation. When I was in high school, spending time in the computer lab was just an elective. Sure, there were a handful of students that knew their way around a computer, but most of us did not. We were not among the “dweebs” or the “nerds” typing away at the screen. When I finally arrived on campus, I knew that there was a missing link (no pun intended) with my abilities as a student and what was required of me at college.
I spent an entire semester catching-up. I think the single most important course I took was an intro-level course to computing. There I learned about spreadsheets, document creation, and the basics behind Microsoft windows. It could not have come at a better time. I soaked it all up and took it all in when I was still in a stage of my life when my mind was still fluid enough to do so. When I look back at my college experience, this was by far the most important course I took. The fundamentals I learned laid the groundwork for everything.
Fast forward a few (quite a few years) and most people that know me would rate me as pretty skilled (okay, I am a propeller head) when it comes to the technical stuff. I am that guy in the family that everybody seems to call whenever there is a computer or tech question. I was the guy at work that everyone called for the same reason.
Now that I have my own company, I manage my own website and domain. I create all of my own marketing. I’ve set-up my own email server with Google Apps. I also personally post all of my own social media posts (I wonder how long that will last..it’s so hard!) I also maintain a regular blog and podcast. I produce my own podcast with a shoestring budget, a microphone, an iPad, and record everything in my closet (no fancy studio for me).
The convoluted point I am making is that I almost missed the boat. With my generation, we are hit or miss when it comes to technology and computing. Some of us made it and some of us did not. As you look toward the older generation at 4-5 year intervals, this type of know-how becomes exponentially absent. Are you high school class of 1994 like me? If so, see which one of your friends know their way around a spreadsheet and which ones don’t. You’ll know what I am talking about.
This generation of high school students are different. Working with students today you realize how talented and scary-smart they have become. They pick-up the basic mechanics very quickly, so the acquisition of knowledge is not the problem. However the application of this knowledge is a completely different challenge. They know where the gas-pedal and brakes are located along with their basic function. They know what the shifter does. The really smart ones know what a manual shifter does! They also know what the steering wheel does but do they know to be careful over washboard bumps on the road? Do they know how to approach standing water in the middle of the highway or to turn into a skid if they lose traction? What about black ice? Knowing how to overcome those obstacles can only come from teaching and, ultimately, from experience.
Today, it’s happening all over again. It’s not the computer that is going to catch students off guard. It will be social media. Again, they know the mechanics with how social media works, but let’s teach them enough and guide them so experience and wisdom can take over. I have recently integrated social media training with my college planning practice and last week, I took a group of students and some parents through an amazing LinkedIn course developed by Social Assurity. This course opened our eyes and made me realize that we were keeping something so important out of the classroom. I want to see if we can change that. Next week, I will give you the bullet points you will need to make sure we don’t send our students to college and into the world unprepared. We can't let them miss this boat.