How to Use the College Video Essay in the Admissions Process

For years, video essays have been a staple on applications to art and design schools across the U.S. (and abroad)... not to mention a requirement for film school hopefuls.

These days, four-year colleges and universities are beginning to push the boundaries of their application criteria to include video essays.

Schools like George Mason University, Tufts University, and St. Mary's College of Maryland are now accepting videos as part of their admissions process.

It's important to remember some schools may accept videos only as a "supplement" to the traditional application, while others may look to videos as an accepted alternative to written essays.

So, why video essays?

Every college-bound student is looking for ways to make their school applications stand out, and "get noticed" against the thousands of other similar applicants.

Video essays allow an admissions officer a further glimpse into the personality and charisma of a student... and it just may be enough to make a stronger case for admission.

What's more - from cell phones to webcams and point-and-shoots - students nowadays have the tools to quickly and easily create video essays.

Simple Steps To Make Your College Video Essay

In most cases, students applying to colleges will post their videos on YouTube, and then simply send the schools the link to the YouTube page that hosts their video. It's not uncommon for some students to go as far as to send schools a DVD.

Remember, the video essay is a fairly new phenomenon, and as such, there aren't many rules yet. But there are a few key points to guide you:

  • Be yourself. (Admissions counselors can usually tell if it's a script written by parents)
  • Be as brief as possible.
  • Make sure the sound and overall quality of the video is adequate and flawless.

That's it. Your video shouldn't be overly polished. Colleges don't want a big production... they're looking to get a feel for who you are as a potential student.

That said; don't pour too much time into your video essay. While growing, the number of schools that accept them is small - and the number that accept them in lieu of a regular essay even less.

And on the other side of the coin, there is still continued debate over whether video essays have any bearing on admission decisions.

In fact, some colleges contend that - because the admissions process is 100% confidential - video essays made public on YouTube undermine that confidentiality.

That said, video essays are a nice way to get to know a student - and perhaps make the student memorable.

Finally, the biggest rule to keep in mind with your video essay: Be concise, to the point, and present yourself as who you are; a student that is ready to take on the world!

To Your Success,

Scott Weingold

Co-Founder, College Planning Network LLC
Publisher, - The free educational resource of College Planning Network

Scott Weingold is the publisher of and also co-founder and principal of College Planning Network, LLC - the nation's largest college admissions and financial aid planning firm. Scott has been ranked the #1 "College Financial Aid Expert Worth Knowing About" in the U.S. by, and he co-authored the book, "The Real Secret To Paying For College"