Why You Should Submit a Video Essay

Video essays are an optional part of the application process for many colleges, and in my opinion, they are the most fun part of the application.  Here are some reasons you should include a video essay with your college application.

What is a video essay?

A video essay is an optional 2-5 minute video that allows students to showcase their creativity and demonstrate why they want to attend the college. This is different from a video portfolio, which may be required for certain majors.

Example prompts

The video essay prompts are open-ended, so students can respond in a variety of ways. One college I applied to asked students to show admissions why they knew the college was a perfect fit for them. Another college asked students to introduce themselves to admissions and show why they love the college.

It doesn't have to be serious

The video can be as serious or as funny as you want it to be. One of my friends was more serious and demonstrated their various talents, as well as showing them at different activities. I chose to be less serious and incorporate comedy into my video as I wanted to leave admissions laughing.

Show off talents

The video essay gives students the opportunity to show off various talents. Some examples I've seen include singing, dancing, playing an instrument, rapping, performing a comedy sketch, speaking in different languages, reciting a poem, playing a sport, doing a skateboard trick, and others. As long as it follows the prompt, it can be done.

A creative way to mention you have a disability

I knew I wanted to incorporate my low vision into my video, so I did a tribute to Mr. Magoo and started mistaking random objects for people during the video. I did a disclaimer at the end of the video that my vision loss was not as severe as I had portrayed...though I do frequently mistake inanimate objects for people.

One other thing- I filmed my video essay while I had a broken ankle (read more about injuries here), and chose to crop out my cast for my essay, as it was very distracting on camera.  Another one of my friends decided not to crop their cast out of the video, since it blended well into the background and wouldn't be distracting.  It's really up to the student as to whether they want to disclose a disability, illness, or injury.

A face with the name

Admissions is able to put a face and/or a voice with the name on the application, which can work in your favor as they make decisions. After all, the essay shows you are putting forth extra effort, so you must be serious about attending the college.

Demonstrate technology skills

Submitting a video essay shows that you have basic technology skills, something that colleges like to see. Even if the video itself doesn't use a lot of fancy editing or other techniques, colleges like to see that you made the effort to create the video.

Give people an idea of your hometown

A lot of my friends from out of state or small towns in Virginia said that the video essay allowed them to show admissions where they are from, giving a unique perspective. One of my friends filmed on a beach near their house, talking about how they want to work to work with the environment. Another friend showed the beautiful mountains in their town. I filmed in various locations around the outside of my house, where the trees and plants were still in full bloom.

No fancy equipment needed

There's no reason to go get a professional video camera, lighting, and microphones for this project, it can be as simple or as complex as needed. I used a video camera which I had purchased for a high school mentorship (read more mentorships here) and a tripod, plus I had my mom operate the camera. I've also seen high quality video essays shot using just a cell phone camera in landscape/horizontal orientation.

It's a fun thing to do!

Filling out college applications can get extremely boring, especially if you are using the Common App. The video essay is a great way to make your application stand out, and it also can be used for scholarships and admittance to special programs at some colleges. So why not take an hour or two and create an awesome video?

I had so much fun creating video essays for my applications and showing colleges who I am. I submitted the essays using a special link on the college admissions website, so check to see what your specific college requires for video essays. I hope you have as much fun as I did creating them!


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