In a sign of the growing influence of social media on the world, the Stanford Graduate School of Business announced today that it would be accepting applications to its prestigious MBA program via Twitter for the 2011-2012 application season. The unprecedented move is designed to help applicants focus on what is most important in their pursuit of an MBA and to reaffirm Stanford’s position as a technology leader. According to Director of Admissions Sally Laerton, “Stanford has always been at the forefront of emerging trends in technology and we feel that Twitter is the perfect way for us to find and identify our ideal candidates. Applicants must now truly reflect on the MBA path and articulate their thoughts with very limited space.” Laerton noted that the trend towards simplification in everything from websites to smart phones was also a key factor in the decision.
Perhaps the most controversial and potentially difficult part of the new policy will be answering Stanford’s essay questions, which are limited to two Tweets apiece. With the requirement to begin each essay Tweet with Stanford’s username and the question number hashtag (i.e. “@GSB #q1”), applicants are left with only 132 characters per Tweet or 264 total to answer each question. This is a stark reduction from the current allowance of 750 words per essay. However, all is not lost as Stanford will allow the use of common texting abbreviations such as “R”, “U” and “LOL”. They will also be introducing a new set of texting shortcuts based on the most common phrases that appear in their applications. For example, the shortcut “ISHSTPFF” can now be substituted for “I single-handedly saved the project from failure.” Other abbreviations will be revealed in time for the next application season.
With Stanford’s influence in the MBA space, it will only be a matter of time before other heavyweights like HBS and Wharton follow suit, adding their own nuances as they try to differentiate their policies. This could be the start of a brand new era in MBA admissions. Our advice to prospective applicants is to get on Twitter (if you aren’t already) and grab as many followers as you can find. And for those Twitter experts out there that think they’ve spotted a loophole in the new policy, think again–bit.ly links will not be accepted.