Newsweek Magazine online recently put up a video montage about video essays that some colleges and universities are now accepting as part of the admissions process.
The video is fun to watch. Some of the ideas are pretty funny. And some of them are totally lame.
But my question is this: do admissions folks really think that these videos are important in the admissions decision? They may alleviate the boredom of reading yet another essay about some kid’s grandma or how Marie Curie provides inspiration to a budding scientist. But are they really necessary? At what point does the admissions decision revolve around marketing and self-promotion–instead of academic excellence and performance? What can you glean from these videos that you cannot get from teacher recommendations and the standard application?
Or is it that admissions counselors–mostly young people of the YouTube generation–just want to be entertained at work?
All these silly supplemental essay prompts add to the anxiety of the applications process. I spend an inordinate amount of my time counseling students on their essays, brainstorming topics, reviewing outlines, and editing for concision. If I’m to believe my colleagues at the Independent Educational Consultants Association, perhaps as many as 25% of students applying to selective universities use a consultant like me to help them figure out how to respond to these nutty prompts. Some colleges like Tufts, Wake Forest, and the University of Chicago have multiple wacky essays to complete. Is it any wonder that the college consulting profession is growing? Soon I’ll be a videographic consultant, too!
Have a look at this video of videos. And then think about whether this is a positive trend, or a negative one. Leave me a comment and share your thoughts.