I’m not sure what’s more interesting, the fact that the first college to encourage personal videos as part of the application process was Tufts University, a liberal arts college just outside of Boston, or that more than 1000 applicants responded to the optional request.
The former shows just how mainstream content creation has become and the latter reinforces the new level of comfort and familiarity the digital generation has with expressing itself publicly through virtually any medium – images, blogs, videos.
Obviously there are advantages to both college and student. The admissions officers get a better look at the whole student and sense of how creative he or she is. The applicant receives a signal he’s considering a school that thinks progressively and looks beyond the standard academic record and test scores.
Granted the idea of using video as part of the application process isn’t entirely new. Plenty of organizations and contests, from the Ford Fiesta Movement to MTV have employed the technique. And other colleges allow applicants to include portfolios or writing or even websites to augment their application. But this example brings the video application even more mainstream, generating response from kids who aren’t necessarily pursuing careers in film, social media or entertainment.
It seems there are a couple of takeaways. The first is we better make sure our kids (as if they need any help) are good at conveying ideas and arguments using all of the new tools if they’re to compete for a place in those coveted classrooms. (See this blog from 13-year-old Orren Fox.)
But for those of us in the business of advertising, marketing and branding, there’s this. Tufts’s little experiment is clearly one more reminder why user-generated content, crowdsourcing, and personal branding will continue to grow in popularity.
We are only a few years away, at most, from marketing to prospects and communities who themselves are as comfortable at crafting messages, making videos and earning people’s attention as those of us who practice these crafts professionally. And they clearly welcome any opportunity to do so.
Sure, the cynics and over-confident among you will view these videos and feel you have nothing to worry about. It’s not as if any of these are likely to rival a quality TV commercial, or even find enough of an audience to take them viral. But this is still a trend worth watching.
And it should make make things interesting. When we’re all communicators, who’s talking and who’s paying attention?