It is reading season at the Tufts University admissions office, time to plow through thousands of essays, transcripts, and recommendations—and this year, for the first time, short YouTube videos that students could post to supplement their application, reports the New York Times. About 1,000 of the 15,000 applicants submitted videos. There are videos showing off card tricks, horsemanship, jump rope, and stencils—and lots of rap songs. Some have gotten thousands of hits on YouTube. Tufts, which, like the University of Chicago, is known for its quirky applications, invited the YouTube videos. 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,’” Coffin said. For their videos, some students sat in their bedrooms and talked earnestly into the camera, while others made day-in-the-life montages, featuring buddies, burgers, and lacrosse practice. A few were quite elaborate productions. Even without prompting, admissions officials say, a growing number of students submit videos. For Tufts, the videos have been a delightful way to get to know the applicants. “At heart, this is all about a conversation between a kid and an admissions officer,” Coffin said. “You see their floppy hair and their messy bedrooms, and you get a sense of who they are. We have a lot of information about applicants, but the videos let them share their voice.”
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