Admissions Turns to Video

Universities and colleges have moved a greater portion of their admissions functions online—in 2012, they received 90 percent of their applications online, and 96 percent of them connect with students over social media, according to the National Association of College Admission Counseling.
Admissions Turns to Video

It makes sense, then, that more schools also are converting another important aspect of the admissions process—the application essay—to online video formats.

Because business schools receive applications from so many international students, they were among the first to adopt video essays, and for good reason: The medium allows schools to meet prospective students in a personal way without the need for travel, says Craig Morantz, CEO of the online video interviewing platform Kira Talent. B-schools, he adds, are especially interested in gaining a three-dimensional view of applicants early in the admissions process.

Business schools now using video for some part of their admissions process include Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, Bentley University’s Graduate School of Business, the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business, and the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.

Schools use video in a variety of ways, from presenting a welcome message from the dean of admissions to giving a campus tour or a brief history of the school, says Morantz. “They also can ask ‘get-to-know-you’ questions as well as those that challenge applicants’ critical thinking.”

Kira Talent recently released a new version of its video platform. The new product, Kira Academic, allows an admissions office to ask applicants both video-based and written questions to better assess their written and verbal communication skills. Their responses can be time-limited to ensure that the content they submit is an authentic representation of an individual’s personality and language skills.

In 2012, the Rotman School of Management was one of the first b-schools to introduce a video essay for applicants to its full-time MBA program. This year, Goucher College, a liberal arts college in Baltimore, Maryland, announced that it would give prospective students the option of applying with a two-minute video about themselves rather than by submitting traditional paper-based applications.

The Kellogg School began using video essays in fall 2013. All applicants to its full-time MBA program must submit videos in which they answer two questions—an “icebreaker” that might ask prospective students about their passions or favorite books, for example, and an “intentional” question that asks them to explain their reasons for applying to Kellogg. Applicants can read tutorials on using the platform and complete video responses to several practice questions beforehand. Once they feel they are prepared, they log on to view the actual application questions, which they must answer in one take and within a set time limit before submitting their final responses.

Kellogg still strives to conduct in-person interviews with every applicant—either face to face or over Skype. “But the video essay gives us an opportunity to meet each student early in the application process,” says Kate Smith, Kellogg’s assistant dean of admissions and financial aid, who pre-records each video essay question herself. “We believe in a very holistic review of each applicant, because we want to achieve a diverse community at Kellogg,” she adds. “We enjoy having the opportunity to meet our students in this way, and they appreciate having the opportunity to see me.”