College Screen Test

It’s that time of year. Trending at #1 for much of the day on The New York Times‘s most emailed list of stories: “To Impress, Tufts Prospects Turn to YouTube.” Here’s an excerpt:

“Lee Coffin, the dean of undergraduate admissions, said the idea came to him last spring as he watched a YouTube video someone had sent him. ‘I thought, ‘If this kid applied to Tufts, I’d admit him in a minute, without anything else.'”

As a Tufts alum and long-time participant in the university’s Alumni Admissions Program (TAAP), I am indeed impressed. This story comes on the heels of the university’s top showing on a list of 50 “top social media innovators among the nation’s colleges and universities.”

As for the YouTube-posted videos as application supplements, I truly wonder how much weight they’re given based on my own experience as an alumni interviewer. Over the years, I’ve interviewed countless applicants whose admissions to Tufts I’ve strongly urged, only to learn of their subsequent rejection. Conversely, I’ve met a fair share of ho-hummers whom I felt had no logical place at the university, but who, to my surprise, were accepted.

One explanation may be that candidates must meet a certain academic threshold (SAT scores and GPA) before the committee turns to the other, more subjective pieces of the puzzle, e.g., the alumni interview and YouTube video. Though, as a previous piece in The Times pointed out, mysteries abound in the admissions process.

One former client has built a better mousetrap to help perfect the matches between college-bound high schoolers and the institutions on which they have their hearts set. Jordan Goldman, the subject of a New York Times series on the process while in high school, exacted his revenge by building the definitive online college resource once he graduated college.

The site,, derives its content not from the admissions or administrative departments of the colleges and universities featured, but rather from the students themselves. Jordan recently told me that some 10 percent of the student bodies of these institutions have contributed reviews, photos and/or video. Talk about the wisdom of the crowds!

Recently, as part of Unigo’s new partnership with the Wall Street Journal, Goldman moderated a web-streamed panel featuring six admissions officers. If you’re in this game, it’s certainly worth a view.


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