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How to Script an Effective College Application Video

Goucher College hits the nail on the head by pointing out that simple and unvarnished is fine, but you can be creative with your video.
BY BrainGain Magazine Staff Writer |   15-11-2019

College student playing a guitar

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a one-minute video must reveal more about prospective students than their 450-word admissions essays.

Not surprisingly, video essays have been gaining popularity at colleges across the United States. Many schools now give students the option to submit a video essay in place of the standard application essay, while even more accept it as supplemental material.

Goucher College, a selective, private, coed, liberal arts in in Towson, Maryland feels that the traditional admissions process — while great for many students — doesn’t showcase everyone’s true talents and abilities. Therefore, it asks applicants to send a short video (no more than two minutes) that responds to a prompt that asks how do you see yourself flourishing at Goucher?

“Your video should begin with a short clip of you in front of the camera saying, "Hi, my name is [XXX] from [insert hometown and state]. After that, what you choose to say and how you choose to say it is up to you. Simple and unvarnished is fine, but you can be creative,” says Goucher on its website.

Similarly, Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, has also embraced the growing influence of YouTube and asks students to share a one-minute video that says something about them.

Meanwhile, George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia tells students that if they wish, they may submit a video essay that can be considered along with their freshman application. In 2 minutes or less, the optional video essay must answer the question: Why is Mason the right school for you?

According to experts, an effective video essay not only puts a face to your name but can successfully assert your worthiness and desire to be part of a college in a genuine voice.

Here are some tips, which can help you script a winning video essay:

Have a strong opening and hook

Be cognizant that first impressions matter a great deal with your video essay. According to US News & World Report, most admission officers will formulate a strong opinion on the candidate within the first seven seconds of a video. The ideal hook is a concise introduction that suggests a larger story. 

For example, "My love of science started when I assisted on an ecology research project at Mount St. Helens," is not a compelling hook – although it is better than a generic introduction, points out the US News & World Report.

The magazine instead, advises students to set the scene in such a way that your viewer wants to find out what happened next. “A sentence like, "In the summer of 2014, I was standing on the slope of a dormant volcano when a storm rolled over our research camp," leaves several open questions that can only be answered by watching the rest of the video, notes the magazine.

Casual but professional

Keep your tone casual but professional. Additionally, try to minimize the amount of times you say “um” or “like.” It’s plain annoying.

Follow directions

If the college asks for a two-to-three-minute video, don’t send in a five-minute clip. In general, be clear and concise with your language. Make sure the content is targeted to the specific college, especially if it’s a supplemental piece.

Resist memorizing your script 

The script you prepare will be your guide to the video you ultimately create. However, when you are filming, it is imperative that you do not read from a script.

Present your ideas in a logical way

While presenting the rubric of the video evaluation criteria, most colleges are very clear that they are looking at content, is your response well thought out.

Significantly, are your ideas presented in a logical, interesting, or otherwise appropriate way? Can the college admission officers we see how your ideas are connected?

What can I use to edit my video?

Colleges say they are not worried about fancy fades or special effects because it's your story that matters. But if you need to edit your video for length or cut out that time you sneezed mid-sentence, here are some helpful sites:

  • If you're an Apple user, every Mac comes with iMovie, which should allow you edit your video before you upload it to YouTube or the application.
  • If you are on a PC running Windows, you may already have Windows Movie Maker. If your computer doesn't have it, this easy to use software is available for free download.
  • There are other programs such as Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro, and many more that can be purchased, but they are not absoluetely necessary for the purposes of the video essay.



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