Brush up your PowerPoint skills for college applications

Launching what might become a national trend, the University of Chicago's Graduate School of Business is now requiring new applicants to submit a PowerPoint presentation in addition to the traditional application, transcripts, and test scores.

The reason for requiring the PowerPoint slides goes beyond the fact that Microsoft's presentation program is a software standard in boardrooms across America. U of C Associate Dean Rose Martinelli explains that the slide presentation is designed to give students an opportunity to show their creative side to the admissions committee. "We wanted to have a freeform space for students to be able to say what they think is important," she said.

Colleges have been embracing entrance application technology for several years, allowing prospective students to submit their applications online. And many schools allow or even encourage applicants to submit additional material with their applications (remember Elle Woods in Legally Blonde?), but it appears that the University of Chicago is the first to require such a submission.

U of C is limiting the required presentation to four slides, with no hyperlinks and no video (sorry, Elle), but the choice of content is entirely up to the applicant. "I really don't know what we're going to get," said Martinelli. She has indicated that the quality of the slides is not as important as the creativity of the material contained within.

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