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How to ace your video essay

by Will Geiger, on Aug 29, 2019 12:00:00 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 among other candidates!  Using our Storybuilder platform 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.

Don't forget to follow us on Instagram @Story2 for more tips about how to tell your story to colleges. Best of luck! 



Topics:college admission