Admissions 2.0 at Tufts University…

Sometimes I like to step back and put things into digital perspective. I’m not old by anyone’s standards, but I’m old enough to have carried a discman around in college because iPods didn’t exist. Put it this way – when I was a high school senior, filling out college applications and waxing philosophical about my future in essays that probably never got read, the concept of being able to upload a video I had shot myself to a site called YouTube might just have blown my mind. And yet, high school seniors applying to Tufts University can now harness the power of YouTube to include a one-minute, introductory video with their admissions application.

That’s right, in what you might call a derivation of the antiquated and elusive admissions interview, Tufts is permitting prospective students this year to record a short video (they suggest one minute or so), introducing themselves to the Tufts admissions folks. And so far, it seems to have been a boon for both applicants and Tufts, as the school received 1,000 such videos (out of 15,000 overall applicants), some of the videos have gotten a significant number of views on YouTube (significant being a relative term, but one has over 30,000 views), and Tufts has seemed to reinforce its reputation as one of the more progressive collegiate institutions. Indeed, the optional video essay initiative has been so successful that Tufts even plans to put together a “Tufts Idol” contest once the admissions timeline closes.

Apparently, content-wise, the videos have gotten pretty interesting. As the New York Times reports, they have ranged from the creative and interesting to the somewhat questionable. While one young woman chose to give an overview of her pairs of shoes and what experiences she had while wearing each, another “budding DJ” chose to show a video of one of his recent “raves” in an attempt to suggest that Tufts students might enjoy his parties. Still another applicant gave her rendition of SNL’s “Like a Boss,” and one budding educator gave a “dissertation” (my word, not his) on “How to raise your street cred” using words and definitions from Urbandictionary.com.

No matter how you feel about the content (and honestly, most of the choices seem both unique and innocuous), the idea is pretty exciting for the digital world and for college applicants. Maybe it’s just me, but I would have relished the opportunity to let college admissions officers know who I was more intimately than responding to some idealized question that I can’t even remember now might have. And it certainly makes Tufts a hell of a lot more interesting to creative individuals than many other more traditional institutions.

It just makes you wonder…YouTube’s been around for about five years now, and this seems to be the first time anyone has used it in this specific way (at least successfully, anyway). If YouTube videos became the admissions social media tool du jour, what might be next?

Applicants to Tufts University turn to YouTube [NY Times]
Check out more applicants’ videos [YouTube]
The optional application essay [Tufts.edu]