College Applications and College Video Essays: 5 Tips for Making Professional Video Essays

Can video submissions hurt you? I would say yes. Can they also help you? Sure! Schools like video submissions because it adds a fun element to an often repetitive and monotonous process. A video gives students a chance to show their personality. However, it is not good to reveal too much (much like Elle Woods). Keep a few things in mind:


When presenting yourself on camera, be sure to be dressed appropriately. Do not wear revealing clothing or clothing that advertises drugs, alcohol, or profanity, etc.


While you want to show your personality in a video, be sure you do not go too far. Perhaps you do not need to show your talent for burping the alphabet. In addition, even though you want to present some humor, do not take it too far or make jokes that involve anything slanderous, racist, sexual, violent, or in any way inappropriate. Perhaps joking about a previous bout with depression could offend a viewer. Instead, making a joke about something lighter could be helpful.  If you can find a tasteful yet humorous way to present how something idiosyncratic about yourself helps to make you who you are, you could show the viewer that you have a strong sense of sense without taking yourself too seriously.


Many schools ask that you post video submissions on a public site like YouTube. Do not share anything that you do not want to be public information. Remember this as a general rule- anything you put on the Internet cannot be taken back! Be very caution about what you post in email and on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc.

As long as you use some common sense and carefully monitor the content you are broadcasting, you have no need to worry. Also, if you plan on building an audience beyond college admissions officials, then try hosting your videos with a service like Connect Cast. This site allows you to stream your videos without any interruptions from ads, and it also lets you connect with and build your audience. The process of creating a video can be time consuming, and if you’re proud of your work, then by all means, you should show it off.


A video would be a huge waste of time if you are seriously shy. If you cannot look directly at the camera or speak into it without being too nervous, then maybe this isn’t for you! A viewer is not going to want to watch someone stare at the ceiling and listen to someone who is mumbling. Make sure you are clear and concise with your speech and overall theme. Do not get long winded- these videos are meant to be short, but long enough to make your point. But remember, a great video is merely meant to enhance your application, not take its place.


Make sure your video quality is good! College admissions reps are expecting these video to be homemade; they know very well that these videos will not be coming out of a Hollywood studio. However, that does not mean the quality of your video should be compromised. If you do not have the proper equipment or skill to produce a clear and proper video, then perhaps you should seek the help of a friend (or even a teacher at your school) who does. Otherwise, you video could end up just being a waste of time for you and your viewer.

All-in-all, make sure you have fun and show them what you’ve got (but in a professional and courteous way!) Good luck!

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