Video Essay Adds New College App Twist
NEIRAD enilno edition
Within the last decade, letters have evolved to emails and phone calls have turned into text messages. It is not surprising that college applications have changed since our parents applied to college. Tufts University in Medford, Mass. is among the first schools in the nation to give its applicants an opportunity to create a one-minute YouTube video that “says something” about themselves as a supplement to the traditional application.
Tufts received about 1,000 videos out of an approximate 15,000 applications for the class of 2014. The submissions ranged from videos in sign language, math “dances,” and a song entirely made up of ripping paper to a video of a re-creation of “Inside the Actors Studio” by senior Christian Holmes. Submitting a video replaces the optional essay segment on the Tufts application. It does not replace the three required essay portions.
Tufts admissions counselor Donelle Durham said the video supplement was created to keep pace with the technology. “This generation [of applicants] is on the Internet; it is a big component of their lives. Making a video and uploading it to YouTube is a new option for students to express their individuality outside the traditional essay.” The only way the video could hurt a prospective student’s chance of acceptance would be “if it was inappropriate.”
DHS guidance counselor Debra Webb-Maloney said she does not necessarily see this new option as a bonus for the already super-busy senior. “In our eyes, kids are stressed enough and work hard enough on the essay; videos add a new dimension to the application. Guidance counselors look to make less stress for students. Plus, not everyone is creative.”
The video may have helped Holmes who was recently accepted to Tufts. (even though Holmes ultimately decided to go to Middlebury College in Vermont) It certainly didn’t hurt that his video was featured on ABC News and on Tuft’s admissions Web site.Christian’s video featured him being interviewed on Bravo’s “Inside the Actors Studio.” The piece was both comical and informative. It ended when host James Lipton asked, “Finally, if heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?” Christian responded, “Welcome to heaven, Christian, your roommate is Taylor Swift.”
For future applicants thinking of submitting a video, Christian said, “My advice would be to do it, but don't obsess over the video and make it look like it was made by Hollywood. If there's no content, it doesn't really matter how nice it is.” Christian said. “What inspired me [to submit a video] was a hatred of writing supplemental essays, a deep, deep hatred.”
Top 5 Tips for Application Videos
- Be yourself
- Be creative
- Keep it short! (or within the guidelines)
- Don’t force it
- Don’t stress over the production
Senior Jake McCauley who was admitted early decision and is attending Tufts in the fall, included a supplemental video featuring the 24-Hour Relay for Cystic Fibrosis that he helped fundraise for June. “I thought that submitting a video with my application would add an entirely new dimension to my application as well as give another side of myself to the admissions committee. The video allows the applicant to be even more creative and potentially thoughtful,” McCauley said.
Tufts Dean of Admissions Lee Coffin said the video clips portray the applicant’s personalities beyond what they’re presented on paper. Through the videos, the university is making an effort to look at prospective students’ overall intelligence beyond testing scores and grades. A student’s academic record still weighs the most.
With Tufts leading the way, Virginia colleges such as George Mason University and The College of William and Mary are also accepting videos with applications. This new facet to the college application process has its pros and cons, but either way is opening up an exciting new world of possibilities for applicants.