College accepts YouTube videos as applications

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Tufts University in Somerville, Mass., is changing the style of a normal college application. Last year, in a committee meeting, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Enrollment Management Lee Coffin implemented YouTube.com videos as an option on top of required writing and academic qualifications. The committee received an impressive video from a student and Coffin figured there were others who might like to utilize video in their application.

Daniel Grayson, assistant director of undergraduate admissions, said they are pleased with the results because they see talents and personality traits that are difficult to express with just words. He said it is gratifying when they open an applicant’s attitude on what they hope to find in a college application.

“It is challenging to guide applicants away from widely held preconceptions of what a ‘good’ college essay is – the ‘formulaic expectations’ that lead applicants to tell us what they think we want to hear instead of what they want to say,” Grayson said. “The very presence of the YouTube video sends a signal that you can submit substance while actually having fun with the Tufts supplement.”

The only guideline for using YouTube was that the video must tell Tufts something about the applicant. About 6 percent of applicants – between 850 and 950 high school seniors – used this option in its first year of availability (2009-10).

“I think it would be great if K-State allowed video applications,” said Jarrett Schaef, sophomore in English and history. “It would add to the effort and creativity put into applications.”

Schaef said he could see how the YouTube option could be appealing to prospective students interested in production and design. However, he also said he thinks the writing option should always be available to applicants so that all types of creativity and personality are presented.

Andrew Hartley, senior in history, said he thought it would be easier to convey desire to attend a school over video, however he strongly disapproves of removing the writing portion altogether.

“Writing is an essential part of college and life,” Hartley said. “I would definitely lose some respect for an institution if they removed it.”

On the other hand, Georgianna Nesbihal, freshman in pre-medicine and life sciences, said including YouTube videos as part of the application process is not the best idea. She said she thinks admissions officers might hold prejudices and seeing the applicants on video might alter their opinion of the students.

Because of this, Grayson said he thinks YouTube videos may not work well as an option on all college applications. While the decision to include the video option is made by individual universities, Grayson said he thinks more and more schools will get onboard with the idea.

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