Goucher College says video admissions promote equity, passion

video-admissions-goucherIn what could be considered not only a unique marketing move for a brand-conscious college, but also a giant step forward in creating admissions equity for a more diverse population, Goucher College today has become the first college in the nation to create an application option requesting student-submitted videos as the decisive factor for admission.

Beginning the 2015-16 academic year, students can choose not to submit transcripts, test scores, and other traditional application materials; and instead send a two-minute video about how they see themselves succeeding at the college.

The move, says the Baltimore, Maryland-based, private liberal arts College, is unique in that while other innovative institutions are requesting videos to supplement their application processes, Goucher is the first to offer self-produced video as the crux of the admissions decision.

It’s also unique in that the College hopes to demystify and de-stress the admissions process and create a more transparent application for students of all socioeconomic backgrounds, said Goucher in a statement.

“…we believe students are more than just numbers and other data on their academic records,” said José Bowen, president of Goucher. “Access to higher education should be about potential and not just previous achievement. With the Goucher Video App (GVA), we want to attract capable, passionate students who want a liberal arts education that leads to solid careers and sustains a lifetime of learning.”

The GVA is part of a much larger move by Bowen to get ahead of the branding race in higher education marketing—a race he says is being created because of technology.

(Next page: Part of branding 3.0; how the GVA works)

Branding for disruptive higher education

Bowen, a former professor at Stanford, Georgetown and other universities, as well as a Pulitzer-prize nominated composer, last year wrote a visionary article, “More Marketing, More Mission: How technology is driving the branding of higher education—and why that might be good for us,” discussing how technology (mainly through online learning), is pushing institutions to differentiate their missions in order to survive; focusing on serving the needs of local students rather than providing a non-specific, expensive traditional education.

“The campus marketing push should stimulate a conversation about the unique mission of each institution,” Bowen wrote, “…ask[ing] ‘what unique product might we offer that the market needs?’ is routine for other organizations. But it will be new for higher education.”

And Bowen, Goucher’s President since July (2014), may have found his perfect home for unique product offerings and innovative branding.

For instance, in 2006, Goucher was the first college to include study abroad as a graduation requirement; and in 2007, Goucher went test-optional in their admissions process. Goucher has also stopped all participation with U.S. News rankings, instead opting to join the Annapolis Group.

Now, the GVA is the College’s next step in innovation and its mission to better serve all students.

Why the GVA?

Along with supplements to the video, which include a brief application form, a signed statement of academic integrity, and two works of scholarship (including a graded writing assignment), each application will be reviewed by an admissions counselor and faculty member, and they will make recommendations regarding acceptance to a larger review committee.

Production value, says the College, will not be among the evaluations criteria, which will focus instead on “thoughtfulness and clarity of the response.”

Goucher felt the move to video submissions, more than a marketing tactic, could help students of more diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, thanks to “recent research that shows more traditional methods of admissions favor wealthier students.”

“In the revolution in media and higher education occurring today, colleges will inevitably need to use all tools at their disposal to encourage students to apply and assess their potential,” said Nina Kasniunas, assistant professor of political science, who served as an advisor in GVA’s development. “This innovation in admissions is a natural step for Goucher because we are looking for students who embrace the challenge of sharing their intellectual passions and interests with the power of video. We pride ourselves on the wide array of smart, interesting students who we teach in our classes and who call our campus home.”

For those interested in learning more, Goucher has produced several informational videos that explain GVA. Find more about the admissions process by visiting Goucher’s website. Check out Goucher on Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, and follow the College @gouchercollege, #gouchervideoapp #morethananumber.


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