Technology has played an increasing role in just about every business in the last few decades; and college and graduate admissions offices are no exception. Every college has a website with all kinds of information. Some provide virtual tours that make you feel like you are on campus, while others show maps and pictures that are almost equally as detailed. Schools do phone interviews, accept applications online, download high school transcripts, and post information on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites.
When many of the universities we attended were first opened, these ideas had not even been conceived yet and the very language would sound foreign to even the most advanced thinker. So far these technological advances have proved to be nothing but helpful; students are able to apply to college with relative ease, getting all of the necessary information for the application process with the click of a button. Now many colleges are giving students the opportunity to make technology an even bigger piece of their application. Colleges are allowing students to submit videos. But do they help or hurt students?
One of the funniest and most infamous scenes is the Legally Blonde movie series came from the first movie, where Elle Woods submitted a video essay of herself scantily clad around her Beverly Hills mansion. This video ultimately granted her acceptance into Harvard Law School. Is this realistic? Of course not, and I do not suggest anyone try to replicate Elle’s efforts. However, this may have been one of the first video essays seen on such a large scale. (By no means do I think Legally Blonde has revolutionized the college acceptance process, but it has definitely broadcast this method to people on a mass scale.)
Can video submissions hurt you? I would say yes. Can they also help you? Sure! Schools like video submissions because it adds a fun element to an often repetitive and monotonous process. A video gives students a chance to show their personality. However, it is not good to reveal too much (much like Elle Woods). Keep a few things in mind:
THE ELLE WOODS MISTAKE:
When presenting yourself on camera, be sure to be dressed appropriately. Do not wear revealing clothing or clothing that advertises drugs, alcohol, or profanity, etc.
GIVE THEM SOMETHING TO LOL ABOUT:
While you want to show your personality in a video, be sure you do not go too far. Perhaps you do not need to show your talent for burping the alphabet. In addition, even though you want to present some humor, do not take it too far or make jokes that involve anything slanderous, racist, sexual, violent, or in any way inappropriate. Perhaps joking about a previous bout with depression could offend a viewer. Instead, making a joke about something lighter could be helpful. If you can find a tasteful yet humorous way to present how something idiosyncratic about yourself helps to make you who you are, you could show the viewer that you have a strong sense of sense without taking yourself too seriously.
Many schools ask that you post video submissions on a public site like YouTube. Do not share anything that you do not want to be public information. Remember this as a general rule- anything you put on the Internet cannot be taken back! Be very caution about what you post in email and on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc.
DON’T BE SHY:
A video would be a huge waste of time if you are seriously shy. If you cannot look directly at the camera or speak into it without being too nervous, then maybe this isn’t for you! A viewer is not going to want to watch someone stare at the ceiling and listen to someone who is mumbling. Make sure you are clear and concise with your speech and overall theme. Do not get long winded- these videos are meant to be short, but long enough to make your point. It is merely mean to enhance your application, not take its place.
Make sure your video quality is good! College admissions reps are expecting these video to be homemade; they know very well that these videos will not be coming out of a Hollywood studio. However, that does not mean the quality of your video should be compromised. If you do not have the proper equipment or skill to produce a clear and proper video, then perhaps you should seek the help of a friend (or even a teacher at your school) who does. Otherwise, you video could end up just being a waste of time for you and your viewer.