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You’re Now a Two-Minute Video Away from Getting into College

Goucher College will accept video applications in lieu of the traditional essays and test scores.

Illustration by Tyler Hoehne

Record, upload, submit. That’s the new path to getting into at least one college these days.

Goucher, a liberal arts college north of Baltimore, announced its new video application process earlier this month. Officials set only a few ground rules: Look into the camera, say your name, and state where you’re from. Then spend two minutes or less answering the following question: “How do you see yourself at Goucher?”

Film programs, and even Georgetown’s law school, are on board with the video approach, offering supplement application questions that prospects can answer with their own unique mini motion picture. Tufts University in Massachusetts received national attention in 2010 for allowing YouTube attachments to applications.

But Goucher claims to be the first in the United States to make videos the primary part of a future student’s pitch to attend. Trouble wading through the alphabet soup of standardized tests—SAT, ACT, and AP? Don’t worry. Lackluster transcript? No problem, either. The video can be submitted in lieu of those standard materials. (Don’t worry, camera-shy applicants, the traditional application is still available.)

“We know that video is an incredibly popular and important new form of communication,” Goucher president José Antonio Bowen said in his video announcing the new application option. “Students may feel more comfortable with this, but it’s also something students will need to do in the future.”

A couple caveats before you whip out that smartphone or video camera: Admissions officials also require one graded written paper and some other work sample from high school to complete your application. Consideration for a merit scholarship will require additional documentation.

Half of the video evaluation score covers “content/thoughtfulness,” with the remainder divided between “structure/organization” and “clarity/effectiveness.”

For those of you already on the early admission hustle, consider the three following examples from these brave Tufts applicants.

Single shot — perfect for the outspoken tech novice

What to do: Park yourself in front of your laptop’s webcam and state your case to the admissions office.

The case for: There’s a difference between writing an essay and vocalizing one. Take advantage of what video has to offer and show off your unique voice. And as an added bonus, no editing required!

The case against: There are so many thespians, singers, and young dancers out there, so unless you have a unique voice, poem or—in the case of the video above—rap, your application may not stand out as much as you hoped among thousands of other similar submissions.

Drawing board — perfect for the artist who can bring everything together

What to do: Buy a decent-sized whiteboard, if you don’t already have one. (That whiteboard in your locker just won’t do.) Put your video camera on a tripod for some image stabilization. Start drawing.

The case for: Illustrate your life, instead of being that person who pulls out a camera to “remember” every moment. With the proper narrative, earn a perfect score for “structure/organization.”

The case against: Aside from showing your face in the beginning, the video will largely cover your handwriting and drawing. Are those up to par? And in a two-minute video, there’s only so much ground you can cover. Figure out what you want to share and practice until you can sketch your video in your sleep.

Day in the life — perfect for the on-the-go overachiever

What to do: Go out, live your life and pull out your smartphone along the way.

The case for: If you’re already swamped with extracurriculars, homework, and AP U.S. History protests, this is the option for you. Demonstrating that you can survive an arduous schedule is a more than reasonable answer to the prompt.

The case against: Two minutes is nowhere near as long as the usual video blog, or vlog, you’ll find on YouTube. Come in with a strategy on what you’ll shoot to avoid gathering hours and hours of footage. Otherwise, you’ll agonize over cutting your well-executed karaoke solo due to time.

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