The Future of the MBA Video Admissions Essay
by Stephen Marcus | Filed Under Evaluation
May 23, 2012 —
Several people have asked me about my reaction to this recent post from Veritas Prep about their three predictions about 2012-2013 MBA Admissions Essays. More specifically, do I believe that schools will more readily embrace a video essay if they are iPad-equipped. The short answer is ‘yes’ but I believe that few students and admissions offices will truly benefit for 2-3 years. Here’s why:
Video essays will require a paradigm shift
Let’s be honest, video essays are not a new concept. Everyone remembers the Elle Woods Video Essay to get into Harvard where she mailed in a video cassette of her personal attributes. If one transcribed the audio track from this video into a written essay, there would be little in the way of coherent meaty content that we could use in an evaluation because the video was largely unstructured. My belief is that a structured video interview, much like the job recruiting angle by Take the Interview with pre-recorded questions for an applicant will be only way to evaluate a video essay equitably as well as manage the quality of the output.
Bias toward those with video production capabilities
One could say that the written essay biases those with the ability to write. However, I would argue that the mastery of the written word is far more important in life than the ability to assemble an amazing YouTube video. Let’s imagine for a minute that free-form video essays become a reality — we would see the entire admissions consulting industry flooded with video producers making music videos for kids and parents over obsessing with recording every potential minute of their kids’ lives.
If that dream becomes a reality, don’t you wish your parents had recorded this video of you when you apply to Juilliard?
Videos are time consuming for Admissions Officers
In an imaginary world where everyone has Steven Spielberg filmmaking capabilities, Admissions still needs to commit at least 60 seconds to watch a video. Let’s say that an above average reader can hammer out 1,000 applications in an admissions cycle, which is moving at a decent clip. That’s 90,000 seconds or 25 hours of time. That doesn’t seem like much but given the increasing load of applications, 60 seconds can be an eternity. Most video essays can be turned into prose and consumed by a reader at a much faster pace. How long would it have taken this applicant to write out his accomplishments versus showing us a video of him bungee jumping?
iPad is a perfect media consumption platform
The iPad is without a doubt an amazing content consumption platform to watch video and peruse pictures. In my former life I built wireless carriers from soup-to-nuts and as most of you can attest, finding reliable wireless coverage that offers useful levels of data throughout remains a global challenge. Trying to download thousands of 60 second movies while traveling would introduce a major roadblock to reviewing applications. I do not think that many Admissions Officers would welcome this additional step, especially given the potentially limited benefit of the video essay.