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Twitter微论文成商学院招生新宠

Lauren Everitt 2013年06月20日

全美各地的顶尖商学院中,越来越多的招生官开始试水传统入学申请论文之外的方式,140字以内的Twitter论文就是其中引人注目的一种。招生办认为,这些创新方式为全面了解考生提供了更好的选择,但也有不少考生纯粹是钻空子,目的只是为了逃避写论文的苦差。

    申请顶尖商学院需要申请人撰写几篇精心设计的短文,阐述他们为什么希望获得MBA学位,以及他们生活中最重要的事情是什么等问题。

    但想象一下,如果你可以选择用短短的140个字符进行自我推销,以说明你自己完美契合第一志愿商学院的各种要求,又或者,你只需要提供个人博客的链接,展示你创建的一家微型企业或者你在秘鲁的背包之旅,那又是怎样一番景象?

    不是只有准MBA学生们觉得博客文章、Twitter微博或者说Facebook状态比一篇内容密集、但往往枯燥无味的申请入学论文更容易让人接受。全美各地的顶尖商学院中,越来越多的招生官员开始提供不同于传统申请流程的申请方式,进而使得需要辛勤付出的申请论文变得不那么重要。

    蓬勃发展的招生咨询业让一些商学院的招生官员们越来越难以从一群精心包装过的候选人中找出真正符合资质的人选。为了绕开那些光彩夺目、花大价钱打造的申请材料,各大院校正在尝试通过不同的渠道来了解申请人的个人世界——主要是通过社交媒体。

    本月早些时候,爱荷华大学蒂皮管理学院(Tippie School of Management)引入了一个幻灯片选项。申请人可以选择在截止日期(7月14日)之前提交一个幻灯片陈述资料(想一想一个包含社交媒体内容,犹如打了类固醇的PPT文档是什么样子),以代替两篇申请入学论文。

    两年前,蒂皮管理学院曾经因为率先使用Twitter申请书(候选人使用140个或者更少的文字陈述申请入学的理由)而名噪一时。“我们只是觉得申请短文变得越来越陈腐,我们想要某种当下的事物,想去申请人希望自己被发现的地方看一看,”蒂皮管理学院全日制MBA项目招生主任乔迪•谢弗这样说。

    有抱负的MBA学生完全赞同这种方式。2011年夏天,几乎所有申请人都放弃了传统的申请入学短文,转而提交Twitter申请书。接下来的学年中,蒂皮管理学院继续采用这种申请方式,谢弗估计大部分申请人都选择了Twitter申请书。但在去年招收新生时,这所学院放弃了这种替代方式。因为许多候选人只是简单地将把Twitter申请书看成是逃避写论文的途径。招生委员会并没有收到简洁有力,同时带有博客、视频和个人网站链接的帖子,他们收到的只是一些内容空洞的陈述,于是不得不在面试时进一步挖掘申请人的个人信息。谢弗说:“实际情况完全背离了我们的初衷。”

    蒂皮管理学院去年引入了一篇强制性的图像短文,要求学生必须提交一张图片或拼贴图,同时使用350个字来阐释它的意义。但仅凭一张图片依然无法全面了解申请人的资质。于是,在一组学生代表的敦促下,蒂皮管理学院引入了幻灯片选项,招生官员可以点击幻灯片提供的社交媒体链接,更深入地了解申请人。

    蒂皮管理学院或许已经放弃了Twitter作文,但其他商学院正在采用这种方式。乔治敦大学麦克多诺商学院(McDonough School of Business) 和亚利桑那州立大学WP凯瑞商学院(W.P. Carey School of Business)都要求候选人提交一篇以140字以内的申请入学“短文”。乔治城大学负责MBA招生事宜的副院长莎丽•休伯特认为,Twitter的简洁性是一个额外收获。“Twitter的精髓在于,申请人通过简洁而精辟的文字解释乔治敦大学对他们真正有吸引力的地方,”她说。“它也为候选人提供了一个脱颖而出的机会,那些具有首创精神、创造性地链接至其他资源的学生分外引人注目。”另外,Twitter还很有趣味。她补充说:“看了一篇又一篇的申请短文之后,大家总想看到简短有趣、别开生面的东西。”

    Applying to a top MBA program requires an applicant to churn out several well crafted essays on everything from why they want the degree to what matters most in their lives.

    But imagine if you could sell yourself as the perfect fit for your top-choice school in just 140 characters. Or better yet, imagine if you could simply link to your personal blog where you described the launch of a micro-enterprise or a backpacking trip through Peru?

    Prospective MBAs aren't the only ones who find a blog post, Tweet, or Facebook status more palatable than a dense, and often dull, admissions essay. Admissions officials at top B-schools across the country are increasingly offering alternatives to the traditional application that make those painstaking essays less important.

    For many B-schools, the flourishing admissions consulting industry has made it increasingly difficult to separate the real candidate from the carefully groomed one. To help get around the gloss of a high-priced coaching package, institutions are experimenting with ways to meet candidates in their personal worlds -- primarily via social media.

    Earlier this month, the University of Iowa's Tippie School of Management introduced a SlideShare option. Candidates applying before the July 14 deadline have the choice of submitting a SlideShare presentation (think PowerPoint on steroids with a social media component) in place of two admissions essays.

    Tippie made headlines two years ago when it piloted the application Tweet, where candidates made their case for admission in 140 characters or fewer. "We just felt like essays were getting kind of stale, and we wanted something that was current and in a place where our applicants would want to be found," says Jodi Schafer, the director of admissions for Tippie's full-time MBA program.

    Aspiring MBAs were all for it. Nearly every single applicant during the summer of 2011 opted for the Tweet "essay" instead of the traditional one. Tippie kept the program around for the next academic year, and Schafer estimates the majority of applicants chose the Tweet option. But the school scrapped this alternative during last year's admissions cycle. Many prospective students fell back on the tweet as an easy copout. Instead of pithy posts with embedded links to blogs, videos, and personal websites, the admissions committee received sparse statements and had to dig further during the interviews. "That defeated the whole purpose," Schafer says.

    Last year, Tippie introduced a mandatory image essay, where students submitted a picture or collage and explained in 350 words why it was meaningful. But the single image still didn't provide a well-rounded portrait of the applicant. So, at the urging of a student focus group, Tippie introduced the SlideShare option, which taps into social media and provides admissions officials with a more thorough sense of prospective students.

    Tippie may have nixed the Twitter essay, but other schools are now adopting it. Both Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business and Arizona State's W.P. Carey School of Business have an application "essay" that must be answered in 140 characters or fewer. For Shari Hubert, Georgetown's associate dean of MBA admissions, the brevity of a Tweet is a bonus. "It's about the applicant being succinct and being pithy and explaining what's really appealing to them about Georgetown," she says." It's also an opportunity for candidates to stand out -- those with the initiative and creativity to link to other resources can set their applications apart. Plus, it's fun. "After reading essay, after essay, after essay you want to look at something fun, different and short," she adds.

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