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Monday, November 29, 2021

College applications get creative with video supplements

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but an uploaded video is worth much more.

Tufts University has taken the undergraduate college application beyond essay questions and GPAs. For the first time, the prospective students of the class of 2014 had the option to include a supplemental one-minute, original video explaining who they were and why they wanted to attend the Massachusetts private university. Of the 15,000 applicants this year, about 1,000 applicants opted to create one-minute clips – many of which can be found on YouTube.

When asked if videos in applications were feasible at the UC level, co-chair of the UC Davis Academic Senate Admissions and Enrollment Committee Mark Rashid said because of the large volume of applications, a video option would be close to impossible and impractical.

“This is not to say it doesn’t matter what you’ve done outside of grades or test scores,” Rashid said of the UC-wide application that includes a short and long essay. “Outside things can get represented in the application. [The two] essays are carefully read by human readers on campus.”

UC spokesperson Ricardo Vazquez said videos will not be part of UC applications.

Tufts assistant director of undergraduate admissions Dan Grayson said the video option added something different to the application, although Tufts is already known for its creative prompts.

“Part of the reason we were enthusiastic to do [the video] is we appreciate when students get more informal with us,” Grayson said.

The videos went beyond a five-paragraph essay with students performing raps and karaoke pop songs or zooming through slideshows of childhood photos. Others emphasized their technical skills with stop-start animation, color distortion and other visual effects.

Although video applications are not in the works for the UC system, Grayson said he believes more schools will begin to incorporate similar media options.

From the admissions side, Grayson said the video option did not skew the admit rate. In fact, the admit rate of students who submitted videos closely matched the admit rate of students who stuck to the conventional methods of expressing themselves in applications. As for evaluating videos, Grayson said the office looked at the videos as just another essay.

Some students at UC Davis would like to see a video option on the application if it were ever possible, while others are happy with the application options as they are.

Unless someone has an outgoing personality, senior history major Rebecca Kurland said a video would not be a helpful addition for applicants.

“I’d be really embarrassed to speak on camera,” Kurland said. “I’d rather write.”

Paul Ariniello, a sophomore mechanical and aeronautical engineering major, said a video could bring more to the application.

“You get to see how a person carries themselves. [The admissions office] can see their strengths and weaknesses,” Ariniello said.

SASHA LEKACH can be reached at city@theaggie.org.

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