Social Media Changing College Admissions

youtubehatIt’s crazy to think we are already almost two full months into the new year and the new decade.  You may recall one of my first articles from this year, when I gave some predictions into what will social media be like in the future, and already some of those predictions are now realities.  Sort of.

I had talked about students hanging up their sports jersey’s for the video camera and YouTube.  You may recall two rival Seattle area high schools who battled it out on the video site with viral videos.  But could YouTube videos help students get into college?  It can now.

We all either know or have heard of the process of a college application.  It usually consist of at least one major essay question, which can be crucial to an admission.  Tufts University, a very prestigious school outside of Boston has decided to add an opt out of the essay question.  Instead, the university is asking students to create a 60 second video that “says something about you.”

Lee Coffin, dean of undergraduate admissions, thought of the idea last year and has said that 1,000 of the nearly 15,000 applicants decided to try it out.

“At heart, this is all about a conversation between a kid and an admissions officer,” Coffin said. “You see their floppy hair and their messy bedrooms, and you get a sense of who they are. We have a lot of information about applicants, but the videos let them share their voice.”

Coffin also says he has no intention on playing down the essay portion of the application because writing is an essential and important tool for students, but he doesn’t want to ignore the new wave of media. 

“We will never abandon writing,” he said. “No matter what, it’s important to be able to express yourself elegantly in writing. Kids who are 17 and 18 are very facile with new media and one of the challenges for colleges right now is to stay ahead of that curve.”

And it seems like some colleges are way ahead of the curve.  Take Yale for example.  One of the top Ivy League schools in the nation created a 16 minute YouTube Musical, sharing stories of why some students chose Yale.

The video itself makes me want to go back to school (most likely hoping that every day will turn into a musical).  But it’s videos like that in which students get excited about going to school. 

Just goes to show you that social media is changing the way we interact with one another, for better or for worse.

1 Comment

  • Susie Watts

    As a college consultant, I think the video is a clever idea for Tufts to come up with, but I believe it will make the college admissions process even more complicated than it already is. I don’t see how a written essay and a video can be be viewed equally.
    It seems to me that the video is only going to make the college admissions process more stressful.

    Susie Watts, founder of College Direction
    Denver, Colorado


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