Part I: The Dos and Don’ts of Audio and Video–Application Style

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Paper application?  That’s like, so yesterday.  Now you Gen X, Y and Millennial candidates get a chance to wow the admissions committee with your dope multimedia “skillz.”

According to a recent article in Businessweek, UCLA Anderson School of Management (Anderson Full-Time MBA Profile) already gives candidates the option to submit an audio or video clip. And next year (HOORAY!) The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business might be ditching the PowerPoint question.  They haven’t yet disclosed what their “get-to-know-you” replacement may be, but–you better start thinking digital.

Here are some of UCLA’s top audio entries that were animated  . . . after admittance.

For undergrads, Tufts has introduced a 1 minute video essay option, and Yale accepts links to videos, but warns that if the content is not stellar, it can work against you.

Check out Ameila Down’s interpretive math dance for Tufts, with over 100,000 views.

Over the next few days, Accepted.com will release a five-part blog series about how to successfully create a 1 to 2 minute audio or video clip.

We’ll talk about how to plan your content around your technical know-how, so that no matter your skill set, you’ll make the ad comm hit rewind again and again.

But first, the TOP 10 Do’s and Don’ts of Video Applications

The Dos

1. Do make it about YOU. Don’t waste time by interviewing your friends and family about why they think you’re awesome.  They can be included peripherally, but you should choose an activity or story where you are the featured star.

2. Do tell the story in logical sequences. People like to see processes. Think about how you can show a behind-the-scenes “how-to” of something cool that you do or have done.

3. Do make a story board. Once you’ve decided on the content, plan the story out shot by shot. It’s like making an outline for an essay. This will help you present a logical sequence, and reduce shooting time.

4. Do start filming at least 2 weeks before the deadline. And test all your technical equipment beforehand, end-to-end!  Something will inevitably go wrong, and you’ll need the time to troubleshoot.

5. Do use a tripod if possible. This will help you have a steady, watchable video.  After watching hundreds of shaky shots (which the ad comm will have to do) your story will be a pleasant change.

The Don’ts

1.  Don’t try something new for the first time. Keep it simple. Concentrate on telling a really compelling story, rather than stretching your technical abilities.

2.  Don’t use slick production techniques to cover up the fact that you don’t have a compelling story.

3.  Don’t use music that is distracting. You can use snippets to punch up certain parts of the video, but if it doesn’t have a reason to be there, take it out.  Again, a driving techno beat may sound like a good way to make your video exciting, but it can be really annoying if you have to watch 100 of these clips a week.

4. Don’t introduce the school campus as a character in the video.  The ad comm sees enough of their office everyday and will get sick of people using it as a backdrop.  They want a window into YOUR life.

5.  Don’t ask someone to interview you on camera like you’re on Meet the Press. It looks pretentious and sounds odd. You should put yourself at the scene of the action, and speak directly to the camera like you’re talking to a friend.

Bonus Don’ts: Please retire these cliches.  Just drop kick them out of town.

#1 person waking up in the morning and turning into a superhero

#2 school mascots as characters

#3 enthusiastic candidate jumping off campus landmarks

Stay tuned for Part II in the series: Content is King (or Queen)!

By Michelle Stockman, who worked in the Columbia Business School admissions office, has a Masters in Journalism from Columbia, and has assisted Accepted.com clients applying to top business schools since 2007. When not advising Accepted’s clients, she a multimedia producer with works published by Agence France Presse, Economist.com, WSJ.com, the Times of India, and Hindustan Times. She is happy to help you with your application.

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