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Tippie College of Business uses social media in application process

BY BRITTANY TREVICK | JULY 08, 2011 7:20 AM

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The University of Iowa Tippie College of Business has garnered plenty of attention recently for a new web-based initiative, but leaders in other UIprograms say the idea isn’t likely to catch on.

College officials recently announced that the most creative answer to the question “ What makes you an exceptional Tippie full-time M.B.A. candidate and future M.B.A. hiring?” submitted in 140 characters on Twitter will win a full-time financial award in the amount of $37,000.

But while business-school candidates will log on to Twitter to finish their applications, officials in other UI colleges said their applicants won’t see this option anytime soon. Those officials said they are interested by the idea but hesitant to incorporate it into their application process.

“It’s clearly a wonderful opportunity for the students to express their feelings,” said John Keller, the dean of the Graduate College. “… [But] I would be concerned about using that kind of forum for making such an important decision.”

Keller said social media’s informality was one of the characteristics he didn’t like about Twitter, but he didn’t completely rule out the possibility of adding it.

“It’s not necessarily out of the question,” he said.

Tippie officials continue to be excited about the opportunity.

“The essay’s been around for ages,” said Jodi Schafer, the director of full-time M.B.A. admissions and financial aid. “We wanted to do something unique and different.”

John Achrazoglou, the director of the University of Iowa Educational Technology Center, praised the idea, saying social media inform students about important announcements and events. The new scholarship incorporates the culture and the technologies students are accustomed to usin, he said.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” he said. “I think it’s a trend we will be seeing used in many different avenues.”

Tippie applicants were able to start tweeting on June 30; the deadline is July 28. The winner will be announced on Aug. 4, and the $37,000 tweet will be made available to the public with the winner’s consent. The students who participate in the program will not have to pay the application fee.

Schafer said tweeting is currently an optional part of the process, but if it goes over well, it could become a part of the fall 2011 application.

But Penny Rembolt, the assistant director of financial services in the Carver College of Medicine, said she was unsure if the school would work Twitter into its applications. She was intrigued by the idea, she said, but it might not be appropriate for the medical school because its essays focus on how humanism can be achieved in the medical field — something difficult to explain on Twitter.

“I think the context is different, and you have to look at what your goal is,” she said.

Current business students are not eligible for the scholarship, because they have already applied to the school and been reviewed by both the admissions board and the financial-aid board. But, Schafer said, she has not seen any complaints from upset students as of yet.

“I think it’s a really cool opportunity,” said UI sophomore and business student Katherine Knight. “I love how they’re incorporating social networking.”

Schafer said she has already received a few Tweets and encouraged students to use creativity.

“This is brand-new, so you kind of have to think outside the box,” she said.


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