Teen with long brown hair in blue button-up shirt recording phone video on couch

Why It's Smart to Include a Video With Your College Applications

Video applications are a growing trend in college admission. Consider this smart and creative medium for a better chance to get into your dream school!

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.

Related: What Do Admission Counselors Look for in College Applications?

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.

Related: How to Make a College Application Video That Will Impress

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.

Want more college application guidance? Check out our entire collection of college application articles and blogs!

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress


High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress helped me find the school I am currently attending by consistently sending me emails of other schools. This allowed me to do research on other schools as well as the one I am in now!

Joan Franklin

Joan Franklin


I love this website and have been using it for years with my students. I originally bought products through Wintergreen Orchard House and appreciated having key facts at my fingertips when advising students. Your site is easy to access and offers a wide array of topics I need as a busy college counselor.

Elizabeth Stafford

Elizabeth Stafford

High School Class of 2021

As a UK student moving to California due to my dad's job in the military, when I first signed up for CollegeXpress a few months ago, the college process ahead seemed daunting and incredibly stressful. That all changed after I started to explore what this website had to offer. Not only was I helped by the vast array of resources available to me, but through being a CollegeXpress member, there have been so many more benefits. There have been emails with college tips—all of which I found incredibly helpful—as well as invitations to events and notifications of scholarships that'll make college possible for me. Overall, I'm very grateful to CollegeXpress for all of these things and more. Not only have they helped me grow my understanding of the college process, but they've also helped me to grow as a person, giving me new skills that I can take with me through life.

Farrah Macci

Farrah Macci

High School Class of 2016

CollegeXpress has helped me in many ways. For one, online searches are more organized and refined by filtering scholarships through by my personal and academic interests. Due to this, it has made searching for colleges and scholarships significantly less stressful. As a student, life can already get stressful pretty quickly. For me, it’s been helpful to utilize CollegeXpress since it keeps all of my searches and likes together, so I don’t have to branch out on multiple websites just to explore scholarship options.

Maurice Whan

Maurice Whan

$2,000 Spring Scholarship Contest Winner, 2021

This year has been tough for my family and myself, so receiving this scholarship has been a blessing in disguise! CollegeXpress has been an excellent resource in helping me prepare financially for college. Thank you again for this amazing opportunity!

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Columbia University

New York, NY

Union University

Jackson, TN