Using Video to Supplement Your College Supplement

We’re surrounded by videos. They’re shared through our phones, built into educational materials and included with social media. So when it comes to being creative about how you apply to college, you shouldn’t be afraid to tap into the medium.

Formal or Informal? There’s no need for professional lighting or video coaches; colleges prefer unscripted, selfie-style videos. UChicago began inviting candidates to share videos a few years ago, instructing applicants, “Your recording does not need to be extensively rehearsed or polished, and the video does not need to be edited.”


UChicago: If there is any important information relevant to your candidacy you were unable to address elsewhere in the application, please share that information here.


Required or optional? Videos are nearly always optional; they’ve taken the place of optional interviews in some cases. Brown, my alma mater, introduced video to its application in 2020, telling applicants they could share a video of no more than two minutes in lieu of an alumni interview. This year, Wake Forest, which always liked interviews, invites applicants to choose between a virtual interview or video submission.

Prompted or Not? While the majority of colleges offering a video option leave content up to the applicant, others use prompts. Wake Forest Admissions has already released its prompt for 2021-22. Bowdoin provides a link in the applicant portal to record a response to a randomly selected prompt. While a student can review that response, they can’t edit or re-record it.


WF: “There’s a lot going on in the world. What has caught your attention, and why?”


Shorter or Longer? Analyzing many colleges’ requirements over the past few years, it seems that two minutes is the standard length. However, Wake Forest’s new video instructions allow for a submission of up to three minutes.


WashU: “Simply capture a quick video of yourself (cell phone is fine) telling us about something important to you.”


Videos allow you to both seen and heard! To find out more, check out Supplementing the College Supplement. It’s available on Apple Books or through the unCommon Apps website.

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