By Steve Retka
As spring approaches, many high school students will really start to focus heavily on the ever-frustrating college application process. It’s a time of essay questions and standardized test scores. But aside from filling in the seemingly endless stream of bubbles on the SAT or ACT, Tufts University is turning to YouTube to offer applicants another option.
Yes, college hopefuls can now supplement their applications to Tufts with one-minute YouTube videos. Aside from the running time, the videos themselves don’t seem to have any guidelines. Lee Coffins, the dean of undergraduate admissions at Tufts, told the New York Times that the videos “let them share their voice.” The 1,000 videos reportedly already submitted have ranged from simple conversations with the camera to day-in-life videos to clips showcasing various talents.
I myself have mixed feelings on this development, but I’ll start with the positives. I agree with both the Mashable.com and New York Times articles that this is a very creative addition to the application process. I also agree that these clips can help show a different side of an individual not seen in test scores or essays.
However, let’s not forget that there are some potential pitfalls here. While the YouTube service is obviously available to anyone regardless of their economic state, video production equipment and editing software isn’t quite as easy to get your hands on. Granted, most laptops and computers come equipped with iMovie or FinalCut Pro, but there are better programs out there with better editing capabilities. Not to mention an applicant’s video will look much better shot with a fancy, high-definition camera versus their parents’ camcorder from 1993.
Now I know that there isn’t a ton of weight placed on these optional videos, and that the university has stated that not submitting a video (or submitting a bad one) won’t hurt an applicant’s chances, but it’s possible that someone with the money to buy a state-of-the-art camera or editing software will get in, who otherwise wouldn’t quite have enough to make. While that alone isn’t all that bad, what about the student who they edged out?
I would just hate to see students who work hard throughout high school not get accepted while students who slack off or don’t take it seriously get in due to a popular or well-put together video. I’m aware that this isn’t a huge concern right now, since this is the first university to officially offer this option, but this is a growing trend in the application process and should be considered.
Regardless, this goes to show that not only has YouTube become an online phenomenon in it’s brief 5-year history, but that it continues to influence the visual culture we live in today.