Texan Twitters His Way to Free MBA

Posted by: Alison Damast on August 4, 2011

About a month ago, we wrote about the University of Iowa’s Tippie School of Management’s effort to use social media tool Twitter to attract applicants, through a pilot program they called the “application tweet.” The business school asked applicants to explain — via a tweet of 140 characters or less — why they thought they would be a good Tippie candidate and future MBA hire

Today, the school announced the winner of the contest, John Yates, 33, a Texas applicant who currently provides cultural and language training to international diplomats and business executives in Houston. He’ll start attending Tippie later this month, the school said.

Yates’ tweet for the contest took on an unusual form, the haiku, a short form of Japanese poetry that typically consists of 17 syllables arranged in a five, seven, five pattern.

Here is his tweet:
“Globally minded (5)
Innovative and driven (7)
Tippie can sharpen (5)”

Yates’ unusual approach to the contest managed to convince the judges that he was worthy of the contest’s prize, a tuition scholarship valued at $37,240, the school said.

“Mr. Yates had the discipline and creativity to submit a Tweet by writing a Haiku,” wrote the Tweet judging committee. “He has taken one of the newest modes of communication in Twitter and one of the oldest forms of poetry in haiku and combined them into one winning entry.”

Overall, the school received 58 entries, or tweets, for the contest, the school said in a press release. Of those, only eight were accepted for admission to the MBA program Tippie said. Some of the applicants didn’t meet the school’s admissions qualifications, while other people who submitted tweets either weren’t considering applying or had already been admitted to the school. The school convened a committee of alumni, business faculty and staff to judge the tweets.

Here's a sample of some of the other tweets the school received:

"All that Twitters is not Gold yet Everything under the Sun can be Sold. 'Twas either This (Behold!!) or Twenty-Four Ounces from my Billfold." (Aaron Honore of Yonkers, NY)

"10 yrs as top corporate atty, know my deals, have plenty of stories but tired of staring blankly @ financials. Time to upgrade @TippieMBAIowa." (Michael Thompson of Iowa City, Iowa)

"Go to http://bit.ly/od3jhr and click "India" to see my blogs. While I study the world, I love where I am: the Midwest and Iowa. Go Hawks!" (Michael Bouts of Iowa City, Iowa and Troy, Mich.)

"A passion for discovering intrinsic value combined with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge results in excellence as a student and beyond." (Seth Goldstein of Dublin, Ohio)

One of the more clever tweets came from Ryan Jennings, who will be a first-year Tippie MBA student in the fall. Jennings had already been accepted to Tippie when the contest was announced and therefore wasn't eligible for the prize. Still, the judges took note of Jenning's entry.

"Experience in 3 markets: China, Mexico and India. Passion in 2 fields: Operations and Finance. Ready for 1 MBA: Tippie. http://ow.ly/5Q4xT."

"It's an outstanding Tweet because it succinctly tells us something significant about this person, and it links to another website with a great video that tells us even more about him," said Admissions Director Jodi Schafer.

So what is the future of the Tippie's tweet contest? Tippie said it is considering adding the "application tweet" to its application process. It will be interesting to see if the school actually does make this a permanent part of its application and if other schools will follow in its footsteps. As mastery of social media becomes an increasingly important skill for business students, I wouldn't be surprised if more schools come up with contests like this to test students' skills in this area.

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