Friday, January 22, 2021

Colleges turning to videos

Any student at Plattsburgh State is clearly no stranger to the college application process. PSUC, like many other universities, requires each applicant to submit a copy of their high school transcript, SAT and/or ACT test scores, one 250-word essay and one letter of recommendation.

However, according to an article in the New York Times, a new development at Goucher College, a small liberal arts school located near Baltimore, would allow applicants to submit two pieces of work (at least one of them being a graded high school writing assignment) and a two-minute long video.

Goucher’s president, Jose A. Bowen, said in the article that he was unsure how many applicants would choose this new option over the more traditional route.

“This is an experiment, and there are plenty of reasonable objections,” Bowen said. “We’re going to track these students, and we’ll really know in a year. If the kids who did video apps do worse than others, we’ll stop. If they do just as well or better, colleges around the country will be doing it.”

PSUC student Justina Glasheen, a hotel, restaurant and tourism management major, said she thought the idea of sending in a video instead of leaving the process strictly up to a transcript and test scores would help those students who are not always successful test-takers.

“I mean, I didn’t do very well on my SATs, I’m terrible at taking tests,” Glasheen said. “It would be great if Plattsburgh wound up doing something like that.”

Lexy Davis, an undeclared PSUC student, said she agreed, noting that test scores don’t necessarily reflect the type of person or student an applicant is.

“I think it would give the school a better idea of who the student is, not just base it off their grades,” Davis said.

PSUC Director of Admissions Richard Higgins said he felt differently about this new idea.

Higgins said the PSUC admissions staff focuses and will continue to focus on the traditional application criteria with particular focus on academic transcripts and standardized test scores.

If the admissions staff is on the fence about a student, Higgins said something creative like a video that portrays a particular skill or facet of his or her academic or extracurricular career might help to enhance their chances of being accepted, but the full decision would not be based solely on such a submission.

“In terms of something like a special honors ceremony (or) athletics, videos could certainly enhance a student’s application, but it would not be the basis of the decision,” he said. “But we will honor anything an applicant sends us and take it into consideration.”

Email Maggie McVey at

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