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The $37,000 Tweet

Aspiring B-schoolers, it’s time to get your tweet on.

The University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business (Tippie Full-Time MBA Profile) announced a new twist to the business school application process today, asking applicants to use their twittering skills to impress the admissions staff. The school will award a full-tuition financial award package, valued at more than $37,000, to the student who most creatively answers an application essay question via Twitter, in 140 characters or less, a pilot program they’re dubbing the “application tweet.”

“We wanted to do something a little bit different in our applications so we could get to know our students at a deeper level,” said Jodi Schafer, Tippie’s director of admissions and financial aid. “Since social networking is so prominent in business today, we thought this would be a creative way students could showcase their abilities and unique qualifications.”

Students who decide to participate will have to answer the following question via Twitter: “What makes you an exceptional Tippie Full-Time MBA candidate and future MBA hire? Creativity Encouraged.”

Unlike most business school application essay questions, which require an 800- or 900-word response, students will have to tweet their answer in 140 characters or less. Another enticing reason for students to participate? The school plans to waive the application fee, just for taking part in the experiment. The winner will be announced on Aug. 1.

"I think because it allows a lot of creativity, it will just be interesting to see what students come up with," Schafer said.

For now, the pilot is optional and is open only to U.S. citizens and permanent residents who apply to the school before July 28, the final application round, Schafer said. Those who don't use Twitter won't be at a disadvantage, but students will still be required to write a typical essay in response to the application question. If the program is successful, the school anticipates making it a mandatory part of the application process, she said.

Last year, Tippie had only 307 applicants to the school's full-time MBA program, which means applicants who use Twitter will have decent odds of landing the scholarship, especially since not all applicants will participate in the Twitter contest.

Tippie's move makes sense because B-school admissions officers have become increasingly interested in a candidate's social media voice, whether on Facebook or other social networking sites. Twitter appears to be the new frontier. Ready, set, tweet.

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