Are video essays the new big thing?

Article by: Angela Bray

“Share a one-minute video that says something about you. Upload it to YouTube or another easily accessible Web site, and give us the URL. What you do or say is totally up to you.” One can only do so much in a minute.

This year for the prospective Class of 2014, Tufts University (Medford, MA) has added an optional video option to the application supplement. Is this appropriate?

It sounds fun; it’s a way to form an impression off-paper and interview-free. Video submission ideas are limitless to creativity and talent as stated on the application, and anything may be done or said. Seeking amusement, my roommate and I clicked the link to the applicant videos. Some made us laugh, while others were absolutely demeaning. The stream was synonymous to the standard YouTube channel. We viewed a variety of things: raps, songs, dances, and… a math dance? Thrown in the mix of music videos was a girl rapping with her mouth rubber-banded shut. Random?

I was expecting a majority of debonair overachievers, yet among them was the smart kid solving a rubrics cube in sixty seconds, the conceited goody-goody, the fun rave DJ, the typical athlete, and the creative animated short film. Then there was the kid making music with a sheet of paper, the impulsive self-interview, and the girl jumping rope in lightning time. Of course there were the suck-up videos drooling over Tufts along with recordings of everybody-loves-me quotes, plus quite an array of clips titled “This Is Me” and “Pick Me!” A good amount were simply boring; isn’t the idea to sell yourself competitively to make that outstanding impression which admissions will love about you?  Let’s face it – this is your last chance to show those “extra” qualities about yourself, which just can’t be expressed on paper, to separate you from thousands of other applicants!

A great deal of prospective students did not consider video submissions. Will university admissions find them less attractive and competitive, assuming they’re not trying? Does a video automatically present itself more appealing than an essay? How much does it actually affect an applicant’s overall application? Hopefully everyone has a fair chance. With so many various subjects, it’s difficult to figure out what exactly Tufts Admissions is looking for; do they want humor or intellect? The prankster or the student ambassador?  In my own college search, I attended a college open-house where Admissions spoke on this subject. Admissions explained to a filled room about a particular applicant they accepted because of his very colorful, dare-devil essay.  Although not a video, the applicant took a huge chance to show his personality through  a witty, yet comical essay; he wrote about all the various things which could be done with colored M & M’s. Admissions loved it!

What about the awful videos- can awfulness hurt one’s chances of acceptance? Several “comedians” simply didn’t bring out a chuckle; other short speeches were overpowered by the shakiness of the camera. Then again, they did try, just not to the extent of some videos which obviously demonstrated time-consuming effort. One boy wrote and recited a rap/poem which immediately made me want to be his friend. An animated, soundless film followed a well-rounded girl’s timeline “in her shoes” through service trips, academic achievements, athletics, and social life. Several well-done slideshows expressed a lot, as carefully chosen photos sent a message of the student’s true personality. Those students prove their qualifications. As this opportunity may provide successful opportunities, perhaps more colleges and universities will consider it. In the event an applicant’s qualities/personalities cannot be presented on paper, shall a personalized, self-opinionated video succeed?