The University of Iowa is offering a full scholarship worth $37,000 to the prospective student who comes up with the best application tweet in lieu of an actual essay.
So you want to go to college, but you just don’t have the time or energy for all that essay-writing stuff? Good news! The University of Iowa is ready to kick in a full scholarship with a value of more than $37,000 to the person who can come up with the best application essay of 140 characters or less. You’ll still have to fill out a standard application and submit your test results and essay outlining your career objectives, which is a total bummer, but the good news is that you can squeeze a significant portion of the process in between banal yammering about what you’re having for lunch and how much you loathe your co-workers!
University of Iowa alumnus Kinzie Dekkenga decided to take a shot at furthering her post-secondary education after seeing the offer on Facebook. “Taking the burden off the 800-word-essay was a huge incentive,” she said, apparently without a trace of irony. “I am on social media almost every day, so it’s more comfortable to tweet than to write an essay.”
Not everyone is a fan of the idea, naturally. Jaron Lanier, author of You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto, accused the school of devaluing its future, and presumably post-secondary education in general, by hitching its cart to a “fad” rather than something more substantial and long-term. “It comes off as a school trying so hard to be cool,” he said.
But Colleen Downie, senior assistant dean of the MBA course, defended the plan, saying, “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. 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.”
And apparently it’s really hard, too. It took Dekkenga five whole days to come up with her college application tweet. “It turns out having to simplify your thoughts down was much harder than I thought,” she said. “I sat on the Twitter page and just kept typing things, but I was always 100 or 200 characters over.”