College applications are a dreaded beast: prepping for, taking, and retaking the SAT or ACT, writing the clever and eloquent essay describing your 18 years on the planet thus far, begging teachers to write letters of recommendation, and then fretting over the final GPA on your transcripts. Now, imagine if all of that process was simply eliminated and instead of jumping through hoops, you made a video. No tests, no essays, no letters, no transcripts. That’s what one college is attempting to do.
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Goucher College, a small liberal arts school in Baltimore, MD, is throwing traditional college applications out the window. The school is asking students to produce a two-minute video, using an app like YouTube, in which students explain how they see themselves thriving at Goucher and why they want to attend school there. Along with the video comes a digital application, a fee, a signed statement of academic integrity, and two “works” from the students high school career, one of which needs to be a graded writing assignment.
President of Goucher College, Jose Bowen, who took over as president in July, believes that the traditional college application system is broken, complicated, and not representative of students’ potential. Bowen explains his decision in an interview with NPR’s Juana Summers.
“Video is where everybody’s at,” says Bowen. “High school students who might not have a laptop, they might not have a way to write their essay and get their parents to edit it. But they probably have a phone, and they understand how to use the phone to make a video.”
Goucher says students will not be judged on production quality, but rather they will be scored on content/thoughtfulness, the structure and organization of the video, and the clarity and effectiveness.
While getting a wider range of students to apply to Goucher might be one of the college’s goals, the other might be just getting more students to enroll. In Fall 2012, Goucher had 3,615 applications and admitted 72 percent of them. But of those admitted, only 16 percent enrolled.
One of the criticisms of the video application approach is that it will lead to students being judged on appearance and on-camera personality. Bowen counters those arguments by ensuring that all video applications will be reviewed by a diverse group of recruiters as well as members of the faculty. Students who choose to, may also apply to Goucher using the traditional process instead of a video.
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