My eye was caught by an article in the WSJ (Sept. 1, 2011) by Melissa Korn. Korn spies a trend among B-schools in requiring their applicants to respond to questions with answers that use no more than some small number of words. The trend, according to Korn, is prompted by a desire for greater authenticity and honesty in applications. The problem with the standard essay format is that it produces responses that are carefully crafted.

Setting aside my prejudice in favor of thoughtful, polished prose and extended chains of reasoning, I don’t see why a 140 character missive cannot also be carefully crafted. Furthermore, it is unclear that a 140 character missive conveys anymore `authenticity’ than a longer essay. Think, for example, of advertising. We don’t usually associate pithy promotional text exhorting us to purchase this that or the other with `authenticity’.

One example of the trend is the Tippie School’s offer of a scholarship to the best response via Tweet to one of their application questions. The winning entry was a haiku. Selected because it used an

ancient form of poetry in a contemporary medium.

Suggesting that had the same haiku been submitted on a square of toilet paper it would have been dismissed as combining an ancient form of poetry with an even more ancient medium.

Finally, advice for those applying to Haas. The answer to the question: What gives you the greatest joy?

There is only one correct answer: INSIGHT.