How Online Networking Gives Students a Competitive Edge
Kids today have grown up with social media, which means they’re comfortable with online networking and sharing their views with their digital community. These social networks help them connect with their peers, but they won’t help them connect with schools or companies.
When kids reach middle and high school, they must begin navigating what can be an extremely competitive world. Whether they intend to go on to college or begin a career, they’ll need to stand out among many other kids competing for the same goals.
Being recognized for all their accomplishment and their true potential can be difficult. Especially if they only submit printed applications to their schools or jobs of choice. Because students are more than their grades or test scores. They have varied interests, skills, activities, and achievements—all of which are important factors when they are applying for an internship, paid position or college admission.
Many kids don’t get the best opportunities after high school because they don’t know how to present themselves and they don’t know how to make the right connections.
The Advantages of Online Networking for Students
One effective way students can get noticed by the right companies and colleges is to create a digital profile and begin connecting with key contacts. That’s why K12, Inc. recently teamed up with Tallo, a web-based networking platform for students aged 13 and up. With a service like Tallo.com, students can create their own student profiles and share them with the colleges or companies they’re interested in.
fThese online portfolios showcase students’ academic successes as well as their many achievements using virtual badges. In addition to listing their GPA, test scores, experiences, skills, and interests, students can upload videos and other files, such as their successful school projects, to complete their profiles. Once they have their portfolios in place, if they opt in, students can find out their Tallo rankings and ratings compared with other Tallo student users. The site also offers the opportunity to be matched with scholarship and internship opportunities that best fit a student’s profile in addition to providing ways to connect with schools and companies.
Tallo.com is powered by STEM Premier, a networking company that set out to assist students in creating a STEM career pathway via online profiles and to better enable educators and companies to recruit talent. With Tallo.com, the company is broadening these efforts to include all students, not just those interested in STEM careers. The Tallo site uses the same successful tools that STEM Premier provided the students below when they created their individual student profiles to fulfill their educational and career goals.
Successful Student Stories
Michigan student, Neha C., took advantage of STEM Premier, when she began applying to colleges. Neha is an avid tennis player, winning several championships during her high school years. She used her love of tennis to start a summer tennis camp that raised money for charity. Her goal, however, is to one day save lives as a cardiologist. But first college. Neha plans to follow in the footsteps of Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to graduate from medical school in the U.S. Neha says she is inspired by Blackwell’s “perseverance … when faced with the adversity in her life.”
Neha wanted to put her best foot forward for colleges, so she summarized all her accomplishments and talents for her digital profile. Neha is now enrolled at the University of Michigan, where she will begin her journey to becoming a doctor. When taking advantage of digital networking, Neha says she especially appreciated the fact that “a student’s profile can be entirely customizable to reflect their own interests, activities, passions, and—best of all—their personality!”
Of course, not all students have plans to attend a four-year college. Many careers require a different path such as certifications and technical degrees. Building online portfolios can be helpful for students who are interested in these career paths as well. Randelle T. is one such example. Attending Myrtle Beach High School, Randelle knew she wanted to work in the healthcare industry. After graduating last year, Randell began attending Horry Georgetown Technical College and was excited to find a scholarship opportunity offered by Tidelands Health on the STEM Premier site. “I would check the website periodically to see if any scholarship opportunities were available,’ Randelle said. “That’s when I applied for the scholarship with Tidelands Health.” The scholarship gives her the opportunity to one day work with Tidelands, which aligns with Randelle’s plans to become a nurse and one day manage a hospital department.
Be sure your students are prepared for the competition to come, no matter what their plans may be. Visit K12.com to learn more about this free service for students and K12’s partnership with Tallo.
Elizabeth Street is a writer and managing editor for Learning Liftoff. For the past 20 years, she has written newsletter and website content for nonprofit and corporate organizations on such topics as the plight of children of prisoners worldwide, the lack of prenatal care for mothers in developing countries, and child mentoring programs. She has a particular interest in the importance of providing all children with a quality education regardless of their family’s financial status or background. A native of Virginia, Elizabeth is a graduate of James Madison University and loves animals, with particular fondness for her two cats, Oscar and Emmy.