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How to ace your video essay

by Will Geiger, on Jul 22, 2021 6:27:14 PM

One of the growing trends in admissions is the rise of asynchronous interviews or “video essays,” which are essentially interviews that you complete independently via video. 

These types of interviews are becoming more popular for a few reasons:

  1. Eliminating bias -- Asynchronous interviews allow multiple individuals to assess the same interview.
  2. Efficiency -- The process of organizing interviews, matching interviewers and interviewees, and receiving feedback from interviewers takes time.
  3. Access -- No matter where you live you can interview! An internet connection is all you need. 

Some colleges, like the University of Chicago, offer an optional video essay, while others, including Goucher College, offer a separate video application (which is separate from the typical written application). We only expect more and more colleges to offer this option in the future! 

If you come across the “video essay” in the admissions process, we want you to be prepared! Here are three ways that you can reveal your authentic self and make a powerful statement in your asynchronous interview:

1. Mind your background

There is nothing more distracting than a messy room or a pile of dirty dishes next to the kitchen sink. The same thing goes for any background noise that may make it difficult for the admissions evaluator to hear your voice. Remember, you want the admissions evaluator to focus on you and your story! So when you are recording your videos, pick a quiet place and be aware of your background. This is not to say that you have to have a neutral background (though that is fine). Instead, you can get creative and incorporate your background or even props into your response. Remember that there is a thin line between creativity and being over the top, so be mindful of that if you choose to take a more original route!

2. Prepare stories beforehand

Storytelling is effective whether it is expressed in writing or orally. It’s a great way to hook your reader and distinguish your video from other candidates! Using StoryBuilder, you can prepare a portfolio of different stories. One of the best features of StoryBuilder is a voice-to-text tool to record your stories and analyze the transcript. This is especially helpful as you refine your stories. 

3. Practice makes perfect

One of the advantages of being able to record your own interview response is that you have the opportunity to practice beforehand! By practicing, you can work the kinks out of your story and refine your responses. With this said, you should be careful not to sound overly rehearsed as if you are reading off of a script. You should not memorize your stories, but should instead read them in a natural and authentic way. When in doubt, you can record yourself on video and watch it to see how you are coming off. 

Next Steps:

  1. Figure out whether any of the colleges on your list requires or offers a video essay or asynchronous interview. This will be listed on their admissions page, but if you are unsure, you can email the admissions office.
  2. Review the actual video essay prompts or questions.
  3. Use StoryBuilder to develop a few stories to use in your video essays.
  4. Record a practice session or two before your official recording.

Go to College Admission Essays Made Easy.

For more info about college admission and scholarship essays and interviews, sign up for self-paced courses and our award-winning StoryBuilder writing platform FREE. Want to stay up to date on the latest tips and resources? Follow us @story2 on Instagram!

Will Geiger is co-founder of A graduate of Wake Forest and Penn, Will was previously Senior Assistant Director of Admissions at Kenyon College where he personally reviewed over 10,000 admissions applications and essays and oversaw the merit aid program; Associate Director of College Counseling at a high school in New Haven, Connecticut; and Marketing Manager at Story2.

Topics:college admissionssupplement essayscollege interview