When I was in high school, the Brown University application included an essay that you had to write by hand. I thought it was stupid, but I also thought the college might accept me, so I went along with it. Later I heard about a girl who wrote her essay in a spiral that filled the page from the center out. I never would have thought of that. I realized that, no, I guess I wasn’t Brown material.
But I was Tufts material, which, I found out when I got there, didn’t really mean… anything. The school was liberal, but not lock-yourself-in-the-campus-center liberal. There was a conservative journal, too, though any association therewith was vilifying. It had artsy students, but they had their own house (I mean, “haus”), and enginerds and even a couple frats and sororities (shudder to think). And it boasted a degree of diversity, enrolling students from both the North and South shores of Long Island. It certainly never felt particularly progressive. (I heard Brown doesn’t even give grades!)
But according to the New York Times, Tufts is a beacon of collegiate innovation:
It is reading season at the Tufts University admissions office, time to plow through thousands of essays and transcripts and recommendations — and this year, for the first time, short YouTube videos that students could post to supplement their application.
About 1,000 of the 15,000 applicants submitted videos. 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. Along with the required essays, Tufts has for years offered applicants an array of optional essays — “Are we alone?” is one of this year’s topics — or a chance to “create something” out of a sheet of paper. So it was not too far a stretch, this year, to add the option of posting a one-minute video that “says something about you.”
Known for its quirky applications? I missed that one. I only applied to Tufts because it was on the common app. Digital video? I think not. Photocopy? Yes, ma’am.
You can scroll through some of the videos here. I’m fairly impressed by the stop motion stuff, but the rest of it makes me feel uncomfortable. There’s little more unsettling than teenage earnestness. If these YouTube applications are an indication of what to expect for the future of Tufts, I think it can be summed up in four words: Hebrew hip hop raves.