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Planning on an MBA? Your Tweet Could Be Worth $37,000

The University of Iowa’s Henry B. Tippie School of Management is offering a full scholarship worth  $37,240 to the MBA program applicant with the best answer to their essay question. The catch: The answer must be in the form of a tweet, 140 characters or less.

Think of it as a chance for a prospective MBA student to hone his or her elevator pitch, says Jodi Schafer, Tippie's director of admissions and financial aid. "That's sort of the power statement you need to sell yourself quickly and concisely, the way you have to sell yourself quickly and concisely in business," she told Yahoo! Shine.

The question is pretty straight forward: "What makes you an exceptional Tippie Full-Time MBA candidate and future MBA hire? Creativity Encouraged!" But crafting a 140-character answer is harder than it looks. (In fact, this paragraph itself is twice as long as the answer can be.)

So how are you supposed to sell yourself succinctly without selling yourself short? Schafer offered a tip: Just like on Twitter, applicants can use abbreviated links to direct the admissions officers to a more well-rounded answer posted on YouTube, Facebook, or a blog. "Personally, that's what I'd like to see," Schafer said. "People sending me elsewhere."

There's a one-tweet-per-applicant limit, and you shouldn't actually post your tweet on Twitter; to keep things confidential, students should send their tweet-like answers to the admissions office (details are here), along with the rest of the official application. The $85 application fee will be waived for students who submit the 140-character answers, and standard-length responses, usually about 450 words, are also acceptable—but not eligible for that full financial award package.

"Social media has been shown to be a powerful tool for business communication, so it makes sense that our applicants demonstrate an ability to use it," Colleen Downie, senior assistant dean of the Full-time MBA Program, pointed out on the Tippie MBA blog. "This is a way for prospective students to show us that they embrace innovation and are comfortable using the kind of media and technology driving so many changes in business."

According to Business Week, 307 people applied to Tippie's Full-time MBA Program last year. Schafer said that applications are up slightly so far this year. Given that applying to any graduate program takes a lot of preparation, "We never intended that our applications would jump drastically," Schafer explained. "We really don't expect to see the impact of this until 2012." That's when the "application tweet" will be open to all students, international and domestic. "There are a lot of people who have expressed interest, but they can't move their family or take the GMAT this quickly," she added.

The school's essay-by-tweet experiment is open to U.S.-based students only and runs through July 28. A scholarship winner will be announced on August 4.

A few other organizations are hopping on the Twitter bandwagon, though they aren't offering as generous a package as the University of Iowa. KFC (Yes, that KFC, Kentucky Fried Chicken) is offering high school seniors a chance to be awarded up to $20,000 over four years for a single great tweet. Scholarship.com's "Short and Tweet" program encourages students to "sum up your college experience in 140 characters or less and possibly win $1,000 or a Kindle for school," and The 140 Scholarship offers three different awards for students who "write a Tweet highlighting how we can use Twitter to improve the world."


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