While written applications are still the norm in college admission, many schools are open to supplemental videos or essays. Videos are an engaging visual medium and a powerful way to stand out from other applicants to get into your school of choice. If you see the option to include a video submission, you should seize the opportunity. Here are some compelling reasons why it’s smart to use video in your college applications and how to do it well.
You’ll make a personal connection
There's something to be said for physically seeing another person, even in a pre-recorded video. Being able to see you rather than just reading text will spark a human connection with admission officers. Online disinhibition is a perfect example of the psychology behind this; people often feel more comfortable and safer being rude or sharing things online than they would in person. This is caused by anonymity and a lack of nonverbal cues. While your application essay may strike interest or an emotional connection, it will be more powerful if delivered personally via video.
It’s ideal for strong speakers
Some students are excellent at writing compelling stories with great structure, proper grammar, and a natural flow of thoughts from intro to conclusion. However, many struggle with putting thoughts on paper but excel at verbally telling engrossing stories with emotion, inflection, and tone. If you're better at orating your thoughts and telling interesting stories, video applications are for you. Play to your strengths to increase your chances of admission.
It increases attention and engagement
The college application review process is taxing with a lot of text and reading. Staying attentive can be challenging for admission committees after a certain point—you could be at the end of the pile when an admission rep is burnt out on reviewing. Video content breaks up the monotony and uses audio and visual stimulation to capture the viewer's attention and interest. As application videos aren't yet the norm and still offer novelty, this is a smart and unique way to stand out with your application.
Best practices for creating an application video
Creating an application video that resonates with admission officers requires a lot of planning, care, and quality. Consider these best practices when making your application video.
Cater to the college
Craft your videos to appeal to the guidelines and culture of the college. Some institutions will prefer a more formal, interview-style approach, while others will like to see your creativity. For instance, a prospective Art student could create a reverse video showcasing a finished piece becoming a blank page with a voiceover highlighting the opportunity to start fresh and explore their potential. A student with aspirations in Business, Marketing, and Advertising could create a commercial selling themselves as the product. But it's essential to follow directions. If you're applying to a prestigious program, stick to the basics. Also remember to answer all questions asked on the application.
Choose the right surroundings
Film your video against a neutral background with even lighting so it’s visually pleasing but not distracting. The focus should be on you. Set up in a quiet space with minimal background noise and distractions so you can focus on what you’re saying. If you're recording outdoors or moving around, consider using a Bluetooth mic for better audio quality.
Write a script
Outline what you want to say and practice it in the mirror multiple times before recording. The goal isn't to read a script exactly, as that will come off as inauthentic, but to feel confident and organized as you speak. Ultimately, you should watch your video back and feel as though you said everything you needed to say while appearing genuine and passionate about the school you’re applying to.
Unless a college explicitly states they require a written essay or don't accept video submissions, it's worth considering this creative medium. You’ll stand out from the rest of the paper applications and showcase yourself fully as a great student and asset to the school. Follow the college guidelines and present your best self to succeed.
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