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    Video Essays for College Applications

    Posted June 24, 2023, 2:00 pm
    Video Essays for College Applications

    In this multimedia age that we live in, it should come as no surprise that many colleges are now accepting video essays. With the mountain of applications colleges receive, the challenge is for students to find a way to stand out. For years, video essays have been a common part of applications to art and design schools. It’s only recently that 4-year colleges and universities have begun to accept them as part of the application.

    What is a video essay?

    The video essay offers you the opportunity to put a face to your college application. You become more than just a name with test scores and grades—colleges get a glimpse into who you are.

    Video interviews are revolutionizing the way candidates present themselves. Think of it as the interview 2.0 – a chance to confidently showcase your skills and personality, all on your own terms. Unlike traditional face-to-face interviews with the potential for on-the-spot jitters, video interviews allow you to take control of the narrative.

    By pre-recording your responses, you can craft a polished and professional presentation, free from the anxiety of live Q&A. No more sweaty palms or stumbling over "ums" and "uhs."

    With a video interview, you act as both writer and director, ensuring every aspect reflects your strengths and qualifications. This empowers you to present a confident and compelling version of yourself to potential employers.

    Are video essays widely accepted by colleges?

    Right now, for most colleges, the video is strictly an option. It’s a freebie. Most students applying to college won’t be uploading videos to YouTube. This gives you an edge if the colleges are accepting them. Making a video essay will give your voice one more chance to be heard in the admissions cacophony.

    Colleges accepting video supplements include:

    • Brown
    • University of Chicago
    • Bowdoin
    • Duke
    • Claremont McKenna
    • Case Western
    • Swarthmore
    • Washington University St. Louis

    How do you make a video essay?

    There are multiple tools you can use to make the video: desktop computers, smartphones, and cameras. Whichever method you use the video should be clear. You can use just about any tools to enhance the video as well: slideshows, music, or animation. It’s important, however, that the tools you use contribute to the video content and not distract from it.

    Tips for creating a good video

    The video is a chance to deliver your message to admissions officers. Since you want to put as much effort into it as you do in the written essay, you should follow these simple tips:

    Say something meaningful about yourself

    This is a chance to transcend your numbers and to tell colleges something you feel is important about yourself.Consider what abilities, qualities or talents you want to convey.Be genuine. Follow your heart and your imagination.

    Make it memorable

    Find a hook, an angle, or something unique. This doesn’t mean being fancy or gimmicky, but distinctive. As with a written essay, you want your video to stick in an admissions officer’s head. Think about videos you’ve watched. Which do you remember a day or a week later? Understanding what made them memorable can help you make yours stand out from the pack.

    Have a script or storyboard

    Unless you’re doing a webcam rap, you will need a script or shooting plan. You can deviate from it on “the set”—sometimes great ideas come on the fly—but having a game plan will help you stay focused and on track.

    Communicate clearly

    If you are appearing on camera, rehearse what you are going to say. Try to relax.Doing a number of takes will help loosen you up, and will also give you more options when you edit. Smile, take your time, and speak clearly and naturally.

    Show your face

    The whole point of the video is to help admissions officers put a face with a name. A common mistake is shooting too far from the subject (you). If you’re small on screen, you’re harder to see and hear.Being close on a person’s face helps convey their emotions. Let them see into your eyes! Close ups will help an admissions officer connect with you.

    Be succinct

    Admissions officers are far too busy to look at anything longer than a minute or two. The last thing you want is for someone to get bored, glance at his watch, and turn you off in the middle of “Here’s what I plan to do with my life.”

    Get feedback

    Before you upload your video, it’s smart to get other opinions. Show drafts of your video to other people and get feedback. Is your voice clear over the music? Does the pacing work?Do people “get it?” Your video will become stronger as you cut and fine tune.

    As with your college essay, making a great video takes time and thought, but doing so may help give you that extra edge at your top choice college.

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