Colleges accept video essays to connect with students

Video essays are a growing trend in college applications.

As video cameras and editing equipment become more user friendly, many younger consumers are now using the technology in their college applications.

Several colleges, including Tufts University, George Mason University, and St. Mary’s College of Maryland, are accepting video essays in place of the traditional written personal statement.

Andrew Flagel, dean of admissions at George Mason, said the video essays let the admissions team get a better sense of the applicant.

“Over a decade ago we actually interviewed all of our candidates,” said Flagel. But as interest in the university grew, there was simply not enough time to accommodate the volume of applicants.

“While interviews were never a major decision maker in the process, we received an ongoing concern from some of our applicants [who] felt they weren’t able to personalize the process,” Flagel said. “Rather than trying to reintroduce an interview component, the idea was to leverage the technology to utilize the ease of submitting video by incorporating it into the application process.”

Flagel emphasized that although the video essays give admissions specialists a chance to see a student’s personality, they are not the most important part of college applications.

“I think all essays and interviews can give some insight on students, but I think it’s important that none of those items are nearly as important as a student’s academic record,” Flagel said.

The admissions office at George Mason posts dozens of the video essays on a university website, although the videos are taken down if the student isn’t admitted. Videos vary from musical performances to serious conversations and miniature movies.

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