Scholarships in Higher Education Getting Fresh With Social Media

The University of Iowa is offering a $37,000 scholarship to its business school for the best tweet by a prospective student who explains why he or she would make a good MBA hire, reports USA Today. It’s the price of a full scholarship, and it’s a mere 140 key strokes away for thousands of hopeful students.

Some think it’s a cheap effort to target the tech-savvy social media
connoisseurs which make up the traditional applicant pool. “They’re devaluing their future, because they’re identifying themselves with a fad rather than something more long term. It comes off as a school trying so hard to be cool,” says Jaron Lanier, author of You Are Not A Gadget: A Manifesto.

But the purpose of this scholarship actually has a lot more integrity
than that. It aims to stir up some creativity and level the playing field for applicants by ensuring that their thoughts are their own.

Jodi Schafer, the University of Iowa’s director of MBA admissions and financial aid, says that application essays were becoming unoriginal and often highly edited. She goes on to say, “We’re hoping that incorporating social media in the process will help bring back some of that creativity.”

As a student, I think this scholarship is absolutely amazing but I really have to wonder about the logistics at the other end of it. I think the
university is going to get flooded with thousands of variations of the same tweet, and even the creative ones will have doppelgangers. It might be hard for them to boil it down to the best entry.

However, I’ll still be keeping my eyes open for the winning tweet. It will
be interesting to see how creative and thoughtful students can be when limited to a miniscule 140 characters of text.

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