YouTube for College Application

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tufts University integrated YouTube videos into the application process for incoming freshmen, spawning discussion regarding technology's effect on future applicants at colleges nationwide.

Tufts University in Medford, Mass. paved new ground when administrators began accepting original one-minute YouTube videos as part of the college's application process for incoming freshmen. According to Anne Driscoll of Tonic, of Tufts's 15,436 applicants, six percent chose to create videos.

These videos ranged from the silly to the serious and gave students a new medium to show themselves to administrators. One girl performed "Math Dances," one boy made a stop-motion video, and another made a flying elephant helicopter.

The use of videos in the application process is only one of the unorthodox methods used by Tufts in its application process. Incoming freshmen are required to complete three short essay questions dealing with why they chose Tufts, the influence of their environments on who they are today and "what voice (they) will add to the class of 2014." These are typical admissions questions and might be asked at any other college. Tufts goes a step further and gives students the option of completing another task.

With Tufts's "Optional Essay," applicants really are given options. A student can complete an essay of 250-400 words on a given topic, a seemingly conventional assignment. However, the given topics are rather unconventional: "Imagine history without the United States as we know it"; "Are we alone?"; Was Kermit the Frog right when he said, 'It's not easy being green,'?; etc.

Students are given additional opportunities in this "Optional Essay" component. Given a 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of paper, a student gets the chance to "create something." The website invites applicants to "draw a cartoon strip, design a costume... compose a score or do something entirely different."

In the next section, applicants can write a short story using one of five given titles, and in the following section, an applicant writes about an incident when he took a stand for something he felt was important.

Though the use of videos in the application process is getting the most publicity, the other aspects of Tufts's application process are just as noteworthy. When applying to colleges, most students only consider which three people they'd like to meet, what classic novel affected them the most, or who they want to be in ten years. Tufts recognizes that every student is different and that different people express themselves in different ways and through different mediums.

We've all heard, "A picture is worth a thousand words." I hate that quote. How many pictures is a word worth? The word "picture," for instance. We all envision something different when we hear the word picture, but by showing me your idea of a picture, you hinder my creativity in envisioning the picture for myself. A picture is worth a thousand words, but a word can spawn at least as many pictures.

How many words is a video worth? What Tufts has done with its video/essay/short story/"create something" component is give applicants the chance to use their own words and their own pictures in their own way. And that, my friend, is priceless.


Hanna Russmann March 1, 2010 at 8:36 PM  

This is a very interesting application process, but is it affective? How can this college decide who to accept and who to reject, when all of the applicants are doing so many different types of applications? Shouldn't there be some type of standardization for this or is there? I believe that it is good to let students express themselves, but it shouldn't completely dominate the application process.

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