Are Video College Applications the Future?

Ahhh, the dreaded college essay… How many students fear and tremble at the thought? Most students write hundreds of essays and reports throughout their school careers but the college essay could be the most important one, one that helps you realize your dreams.

But there has always been a question as to if the college essay can really give the admissions representatives a complete view of who a candidate is. But is there a better way? Well, some colleges, including Tufts University outside Boston, may have found it! Tufts is now accepting 0ne-minute YouTube videos as part of their admissions process!

Some of the more common college essay questions are, “Where do you see yourself 10 years after you graduate from college?” or “Explain your most memorable moment,” or “Who is your biggest inspiration?” Although these questions are nice and merit a feel-good answer, they don’t always show a person’s true potential and what drives their passion.

So, how does a video submission compare? In a video submission, admissions representatives are able to see how the student looks, sounds, presents themselves—and most importantly—what they decide to share. Without a question posed, students can talk about whatever they wish and that may be the most telling of all.

Many of the Tufts video submissions are quite clever, and range in approach from stop-action photography to building and flying a remote-controlled elephant (Tufts mascot). One applicant performed a card trick. Another filmed himself performing good deeds, such as walking an old lady across the street. One student showed clips of James Lipton, the host of “Inside the Actor’s Studio,” interviewing a guest; he then replaced the guest’s answers with video clips of his own.

Not all educators welcome the idea of video applications. Henry Broaddus, dean of admissions at The College of William & Mary, believes students won’t act like their true selves on video.

“Video, I think, has a dangerous tendency to encourage the kind of packaging that a lot of us really lament, where students really see this as a competition, as a way to try to pitch themselves as a product instead [of] as curious students,” he said.

Some potential topics to discuss are hobbies, especially unique ones . . . your family, especially if they have been an inspiration . . . or maybe just a dialogue about what you love about the college and what you hope to accomplish while you are there. Things to avoid are hangouts, especially ones where illegal activities could be happening like alcohol consumption or drug use, a minute submission of you giggling with your friends like you are on MTV’s real world or a submission of you singing a song like you are trying out for American Idol. Although it would be acceptable to discuss singing as a hobby, admissions representative don’t need a minute of you singing the most recent Beyonce song into a hairbrush.

Here are some pointers for having your submission stand out:

  • Organize your thoughts and put them on poster board behind the camera.
  • Don’t read from the poster board because you want it to seem natural but put some bullet points to take the nervousness away and make you feel more comfortable.
  • Dress appropriately. You don’t need to wear a tux or gown but guys wear a nice dress shirt and no hats. Girls keep your necklines high and your skirts long.
  • Remember to smile! This is an extremely exciting time, so enjoy it.

Video applications are a very creative way for students to express themselves. Hopefully more colleges will follow Tuft University’s lead and begin to offer this option. Since 1,000 submissions have already poured in to Tufts, it likely won’t be long before other colleges will take notice.

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