Video to boost admissions

Goucher College, a liberal arts college in Baltimore, has probably invested more heavily in this concept than any other school. (Read: “Video applications skyrocket university admissions.”)

Starting last September, it gave applicants the option to submit a self-produced, two-minute video in lieu of the Common Application or the Universal College Application. In addition to the video, students simply need to complete a brief digital application, and provide two works of scholarship and a signed statement of academic integrity. “Video is a great way to get to know students and learn who they are in a way that is comfortable for their generation,” said Christopher Wild, an admissions counselor at Goucher.

By the December 2014 deadline, the college had received 64 video applications (GVAs) out of a total of approximately 3,500. Goucher plans to offer the video option again in 2015, while monitoring how last year’s crop of video applicants fare at the school. “We’ll see how well students perform in the classroom,” said Wild. “That will be the true test in seeing how well the GVA was able to assess student potential.”

Video to reveal what’s behind the GPA

Entrepreneurs are also betting that video can help schools gain a fuller picture of prospective students than traditional applications. Kira Academic is a video admissions platform that is currently employed by 40 colleges and universities, including the MBA programs at Kellogg, Stanford, and Yale. The product helps schools conduct video interviews with students via computer. “We feed in alongside the CRMs to help schools use more than grades and an essay to determine if students are right for their programs,” said Craig Morantz, CEO of Kira Academic. “We do this by giving them a three-dimensional view of the applicant.”

Participating schools set the parameters for these video interviews. In a typical scenario, though, students might be faced with anywhere from three to six questions, with 60-90 seconds to answer each. The system is automated, so colleges do not need to provide an interviewer.

“We want to give schools a real view of how an applicant thinks, so applicants don’t see the questions ahead of time,” said Morantz, who noted that a randomized question bank ensures interviewees are asked different questions. “Just like a real interview, we don’t want them practicing.”

By forcing prospective students to think and speak on the fly, Morantz believes schools see a side of applicants that they might otherwise miss. “A traditional application shows you cognitive skills, but you don’t see important competencies like intrapersonal skills, empathy, conscientiousness,” he noted. “With the video interview, schools get a holistic view of the applicant. They uncover a personality.”

(Next page: The growing need to reveal more than a GPA)

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