HigherEdMorning.comThe new way students are applying to college

The new way students are applying to college

March 10, 2010 by Geneva Reid
Posted in: Admissions & Financial Aid, In this week's e-newsletter, Latest News & Views

Several colleges now accept YouTube videos as part of the application process. But are these videos really adding anything — and are they fair? Take a look and see what you think.

The idea began last spring at Tufts University.

Lee Coffin, dean of undergraduate admissions, saw one teen’s well-made video and thought there was merit in including these made-at-home movies as a supplement to the regular application.

Speaking with The New York Times, Coffin said, “…This is all about a conversation between a kid and an admissions officer. You see their floppy hair and their messy bedrooms and you get a sense of who they are…The videos let them share their voice.”

About 6.6% of Tufts applicants decided to submit videos – with 60% of them coming from women.

So far, George Mason University, the University of Chicago and a handful of other colleges have also begun to accept videos from applicants.

But some educators worry a video supplement will favor applicants coming from higher income families. The concern is that admissions officers might favor “Cecil B. DeMille” extravaganzas vs. low-budget productions.

Yet Tufts administrators say two-thirds of their application videos were submitted by students seeking financial aid.

So the question is: Do these videos really add anything to the college application process?

Here’s what the editors of this blog think:

Tom’s take:  Just what we need – another unfair advantage for families with the means to come up with a slick video portrayal of their precious young candidate. Let’s spawn yet another cottage industry, this time one of video consultants who cater to those who can afford their services while burdening the less well-heeled with yet another distinct disadvantage. Admissions officials should be working to level the playing field for applicants – not make it more uneven than it already is.

Carin’s take: I think it’s a great idea. Just as not all students perform well on one type of test, not all applicants present themselves well in one kind of format. This is another vehicle to help students let admissions officers know who they are. As for critics who claim it favors the rich, the playing field has never been equal when it comes to the college application process – what with SAT courses and coaches to prep those who can afford it. I trust admissions officials will see through any video glitz and focus on what applicants are trying to express.

Take a look at a few of the videos – and then let us know what you think in the comments section below.

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  • http://www.spc.edu Joe Giglio

    I think it just adds to the rich mix of information we admission professionals would like to see when reviewing applicants. These days with webcams, cell phones, ipods, there are lots of low cost ways to make a video. I appreciate this as a way for a student to express herself/himself, much as they would in an essay, a portfolio or an interview.

  • Kathleen

    Ah, yes, but will there be inherent discrimination built in to it? Will better looking students have an advantage? Are there other characteristics that will figure in like ethnicity, or ability to present oneself smoothly?


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