You could previously connect with contacts from college and grad school on LinkedIn by searching by name or by the educational institution, but LinkedIn is now making this process a much easier, feature rich experience. LinkedIn is debuting a new tool today, called Classmates, which gives the professional social network’s users new insights and networking features to connect with fellow alumni of colleges and universities.
Via Classmates you can choose a network by university (i.e. Columbia University, which is my alma mater), and I can see via graphs where most of my classmates work, what they do (by industry), and where they live. You can also see a list of alumni with whom you share connections, and send them messages from the feature.
For now, the schools you listed on your LinkedIn profile are automatically available. LinkedIn also will set the dates to show people who were on campus during the years you attended school (from your profile). If you have more than one school listed, select a different school from the drop-down window to take a deep data dive on this institution.
The tool actually makes connecting with old alumni much easier. I can imagine this is a pretty popular way that members are using LinkedIn and it makes sense to make this search are more data-rich and useful feature. This is just another example of how LinkedIn is using the massive amounts of data from its 120-million plus members to make the job search and professional connections experience a little bit better.
Though you have to wonder what Classmates.com thinks about the new feature.