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New Ticket to Admission at Goucher College: A Two-Minute Video

For students who lack stellar grades or test scores, but can articulate how they see themselves flourishing in college, Goucher College has a new application option to consider: a two-minute video.

Those who want to attend the small liberal arts college in Towson, Md., near Baltimore, can forgo the traditional transcript and instead submit a short application with a straightforward video about themselves. The video will not be judged for its production quality, but rather the clarity and thoughtfulness of the message, according to a press release from the college.

"The college admissions process is insane," said Goucher President Jose Antonio Bowen in a video explaining the philosophy behind the video option announced Sept. 4. "We have a system that takes too much time, costs too much money, and adds stress. ... We are looking for a new way to recognize talent."

The college has posted the rubric for the Goucher Video Application online to make transparent what a faculty member and admissions counselor will be considering, said Bowen. It also requires the student to submit two assignments completed in high school, including one graded writing assignment. 

"We just want to understand something about you and how you will fit in here at Goucher. What your ambitions are, what you have overcome to get here," said Bowen, who stepped into his new position at the college in July. "We are doing this because higher education should be about potential, not about privilege."

Bowen also acknowledged that the college is trying to set it self apart and convey to prospective students that they are more than just a number in the application process.

Last fall, Goucher had about 1,450 undergraduate and 660 graduate students. It admitted about 72 percent of its undergrad applicants. The current published price for tuition and fees this fall at Goucher is $40,558.

Other colleges, such as Tufts University and George Mason University, accept videos as part of the admissions process, but Goucher is unique in offering a video as an alternative to the traditional application, said David Hawkins, director of public policy and research with the National Association for College Admission Counseling. "For a lot of smaller colleges, the name of the game in recruitment is differentiation," said Hawkins in a phone interview. "Admissions officers, families, and students lament the complexity of admissions. It is a relatively bold move to dramatically reduce that complexity."

Hawkins noted that reviewing videos can be labor intensive. Many larger schools don't have the capacity to review them and expressly say they don't want video submissions. Some colleges are trying other recruiting strategies, such as on-the-spot admissions at college fairs, and Hawkins expects the creative approaches will likely continue as schools compete for students.


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