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YouTube Application Supplement Makes A Splash

Once again, Tufts has made headlines for marching boldly along its own path. 

This time, it's the optional essay portion of the undergraduate application that's grabbing national attention. 

The story, which first appeared in the Tufts Daily on February 6, caught the attention of the Boston Globe, who published their story on February 21. By the morning of the 22nd, the New York TImes had caught on too, and soon it was starting to make waves on social media sites such as Mashable and Twitter.

The new portion of the application, part of the Supplement to the Common Application (link is a PDF), reads:

Share a one-minute video that says something about you. Upload it to YouTube or another easily accessible Web site, and give us the URL. What you do or say is totally up to you. (Unfortunately, we are unable to watch videos that come in any form other than a URL link.)  

So why is this choice by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions such a big deal? Just earlier this year, Tufts was named as one of the Decade's Hottest Schools by The Daily Beast

Tufts, and its applications process, is known for running things a little differently than most. Take the Ex-College, for example, the first of its kind. And in the fall, Tufts-related headlines were more mocking than admiring when changes to the university's residential policies earned scoffs from news outlets across the country.

But this particular new idea seems like it might have implications for many other schools, and the college admissions process across the board. Several of the articles imply that Tufts is simply leading the curve on adapting the college application process to 21st century students, most of whom are tech- and web-savvy from an early age.

"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,” Lee Coffin, dean of undergraduate admissions, told the New York Times

Tufts, however, isn't exactly known for keeping up with the most current technological advances. While its newest dorm facility, Sophia Gordon Hall, was one of the first "green dorms" in the country, the university has annually resisted installing campus-wide wireless access.

It spent $1.3 million to renovate the patio atop the Tisch Library roof, but only recently announced a decision to expand its Merchants on Points program, while many universities have had similar, much larger systems in place for years. Perhaps then, this step by the Admissions office will put pressure on the university at large to keep up with its increasingly forward-thinking student body.

More worrisome, however, is that the public nature of these admissions videos, posted as they are on YouTube and other public video sites, will put the admissions officers in an uncomfortable position. Some of the videos have gained a very public following, one reportedly getting more than six thousand views. Current Tufts students have posted comments of support on the clips they like, meaning that if those applicants fail to get in, their disappointment is that much more public.

Still, only time will tell if the new optional "essay" is the way of the college admissions future, or just a nice experiment. 

Click to watch the video submissions on YouTube.

Comments

  • Afriend 4 years ago

    While it’s unclear to me whether institutions of higher learning across America will immediately embrace the personal video as part of the admissions process, what is clear is that it is a reality that video is taking its place alongside text and photography as a primary means of communication.

    Internet access is essentially free (for the moderately resourceful). The cost of digital cameras has fallen tremendously. And importantly, the knowledge of how to competently produce videos is available to us all. If you haven’t been on YouTube lately, you’ll find out what millions of teenagers around the world do with their time. And check out New York Video School (www.nyvideoschool.com), and you’ll see how easy and inexpensive it actually is to get professional quality instruction to produce a great video.

    Many of this year’s videos may elicit groans and grimaces, but I am willing to bet that there will be more than just 1,000 Tufts’ applicants making videos in 2015.

  • Michael 4 years ago

    Yes, because I'm sure the parents who donated the money for the library roof would have been equally willing to pay instead for "Alex's Expanded MOPs" as a memorial to their child. There's no comparison to make between library roof and MOPs b/c it wasn't an either-or thing.

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