Applying for college was a really stressful time. Filling out tedious applications and writing essays that were expected to show off my voice and ideas to impress colleges was a lot of work. In this extremely digital age, I do not know how I did not see this coming – that is, the idea of people sending in videos as part of their applications to college. In Jack Kadden’s article, “A New Twist: The Application Video”, Tamar Lewin discusses Tufts University’s new option for students to upload a short YouTube video to supplement his or her application.
As I do with many things, I truly have mixed emotions about this video option which Tufts provides. On the one hand, I think it is a great opportunity for someone to show themselves off in a way that one cannot express through a normal application. There are probably many instances in which that one little extra video added to an application could be the factor that gets the student accepted into a school. I think this is great because it opens up opportunities for students which did not previously exist. I believe that a video could really show off a person’s personality in a way that an essay or a resume cannot. For instance, if someone has a truly remarkable talent that can only be expressed through visual means, then of course a video is an incredibly useful tool. This is also a wonderful opportunity for those who feel that they are not the strongest writers and feel that their essay does not really capture what they would like to communicate. People would have the opportunity to be more creative and even have more fun with applying to schools.
Naturally, I believe there is also a rather sizable downside to this new application supplement. Since these videos allow students to be seen rather than imagined, there is a much higher risk of profiling and discrimination. Human beings naturally make judgements upon seeing other people; this is an inevitable truth. Therefore, these videos could become a means for schools to choose students who “look good,” whereas written applications focus on who “sounds good” on paper. If someone on the application review committee happens to be openly or secretly racist or prejudice against certain people, a video might ruin a person’s chances of acceptance. I also feel like there is the risk that schools might even begin choosing people based on attractiveness. Unfortunately, we live in a superficial world in which looks can greatly sway our opinions and decision making, and the idea of students being put on display and superficially judged almost seems like more of an acting or modeling audition. What school would not want their students to have the reputation of being both smart and good looking? Suddenly, it feels like students are being viewed as if in a “meat market” of sorts in which one must be intelligent and attractive.
Another issue I foresee is that if the use of application videos takes off and becomes more widespread among schools, the college application process might turn into a film contest. Students are going to have the pressure of making a more impressive video than their peers, and this will become a whole other animal with its own mess of problems. For example, those who are more technologically savvy will likely have the upper hand when it comes to making a quality video. This is unfair because a student who knows how to use movie editing programs might be able to make their content appear more impressive than it actually is by the quality of their editing.
Also, what about shy people? What about introverts who just do not feel comfortable getting in front of a camera and putting on a show? Not everyone was born to have all eyes on them, and that is perfectly okay. So, is the addition of video to an application something that only outgoing, extroverted people can benefit from?
Although my feelings on the subject are very mixed, I have clearly expressed more concerns than praise on the matter. Regardless, I think that the evolution of college applications becoming digital and videoed is unavoidable and will eventually become a common practice. The only thing I can hope for is that people learn to become more open and accepting of others and make judgements based on substance and not appearance. Perhaps those judging applications will learn to ignore superficial, racial, or prejudicial factors and really look at people for who they are. To me, this is the only solution, since technology and its presence in the application process will continue to accelerate.