Colleges accept video essays to connect with students

“I think the videos that I’ve seen that have the largest influence on a students’ admission were very direct: students sharing information about themselves,” Flagel said. He noted that the most successful video essays are similar to the best written essays, in that both give sound reasons why the student belongs at the university.

Flagel said that while students can use video in place of a written essay, they are encouraged instead to use it as a supplement. George Mason has accepted videos as supplements to college applications for decades, and university officials expect that more students will take advantage of the medium in the future.

“The prevalence and availability of video, and students’ comfort levels with use of video and sharing things through video, will undoubtedly lead to this trend continuing to grow,” Flagel said.

He pointed out, though, that video essays aren’t new at George Mason.

“This is much more of an evolution than a revolution,” said Flagel. “We’ve had videos that students sent in with their [college applications] for over 30 years. The ease of sending video and the integration of video into the application itself is new, but not necessarily as novel as it may seem to many folks.”

The Common Application, a free online undergraduate college application form, has included a video portion in its arts supplement for an extended period of time, but recently took an active role in encouraging students to submit videos.

Several college application videos for each of these universities have appeared on YouTube, with some garnering hundreds of thousands of hits.

George Mason posts its own video essays on and asks visitors to comment on their favorites.

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