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What is a Video Essay?

Video essays are becoming increasingly popular amongst college applicants. It is no longer a part of the application required or preferred only for business, arts or design schools. As universities (primarily North American ones) have seen well-written essays from applicants with similar backgrounds all over the world, more and more admission offices have started to suggest or require the submission of video essays, either pre-recorded or record in real time online on designated platforms.


It is more direct and realistic for schools to find out what applicants are like, whether they are articulate, have presentation skills and sense of humor with video essays than with paper applications. Admission committee could distinguish their applicants from like, eg. their personalities, their language proficiency, presentation & public speaking skills etc .


Video essays are ideal to showcase an applicant’s talents and abilities, but it is not for everyone. If the applicant is good at expressing themselves and is not camera shy, a video essay can be an additional boost even though it’s optional.


What Is Covered In A Video Essay?


Take Yale’s undergraduate application as an example: applicants need to submit two short essays (250 words or fewer) below to reflect on topics and personal experiences, and those who are submitting the coalition application can also include a video that should complement the response to one of the written essay prompts. The video does not require editing.


Here are tips on preparing for a video essay:


  • Clarify the specifications as to whether it’s pre-recorded video or live recording session

  • Be unique, creative and memorable but without being too dramatic or gimmicky

  • Make a strong opening to hook your viewers in the first 5-10 seconds

  • Write a script that incorporates the main ideas

  • Pay attention to time limits, lighting, surrounding noises, clothing, facial expressions, tones, etc

  • If it is a pre-recorded video, try not to look like you are reciting the scripts


In this ever competitive world of college application, this is another way to make your application stand out even more than others so use your time well on it. Good luck!


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