College Admissions – A Picture (or Video) is Worth a Thousand Words
If you’re someone who makes a better impression in person than on paper, applying to college just got easier
COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES HAVE BEEN using YouTube videos to attract students for years. (The popular “Why Choose Yale?” video was featured in The New York Times and has been viewed more than 500,000 times.) But now some schools are turning the tables and encouraging students to submit videos with their applications.
This year, Tufts University (MA), along with George Mason University (VA) and St. Mary’s College (CA), became the first colleges in the country to allow applicants to submit videos that “say something about them.” Tufts accepts videos as a supplement to the application, while George Mason and St. Mary’s accept them in place of a written essay (good news for those of you who hate to write!). George Mason asks students to “send us your videos and tell us (and the world) why Mason is the perfect match for you,” while St. Mary’s reminds students to “consider your audience.”
Other colleges may not specifically ask for videos, but most accept whatever students choose to submit. The admissions office at Dartmouth College, for example, recently discontinued paper applications; online applications make it easier for admission officials to click on links to student blogs, videos and personal websites.
At Tufts, more than 1,000 students included one-minute video essays in their applications; some got thousands of hits on YouTube, with fans lobbying for their favorite ones. (Admissions representatives, though, have assured students that online fans, comments and campaigning don’t influence admissions decisions.)
Like the written essay, the video is yet another way to express your personality in your application. So don’t worry if you don’t have a high-tech camera or didn’t take a class in videography. Admissions officers merely want a chance to get to know you, and they don’t expect a professionally made video.
What are they looking for in a video? Enthusiasm, creativity, wit or leadership, among other traits. Show (rather than tell) why you want to go to that specific school and why you’d make a great addition to the incoming class. In the application video she sent to Tufts, entitled “In My Shoes,” Rhaina Cohen uses her shoes (with photos and set to music) to illustrate some of the more important moments in her life, like meeting Hillary Clinton. Michael Klinker designed, built and flew a small, motorized blue elephant (Tuft’s mascot) in his video.
Keep in mind that admissions officers view applications holistically,giving the most weight to your academic record and test scores. That being said, if your grades and test scores do little to reveal the “true you,” consider creating a video that does just that. It could make the difference in a close case between you and other candidates. Have fun and be creative. You don’t have to be an actor or a production whiz—just be yourself.