Goucher College, a small liberal arts school outside Baltimore, has drawn much attention for a radical experiment in admissions: It lets applicants submit a short homemade video to make their pitch. No transcripts needed, nor test scores.
The Goucher Video Application, as it’s called, requires applicants to submit a graded writing assignment from high school plus another piece of academic work. But the centerpiece is a simple two-minute video in which applicants explain themselves and how they would fit in at Goucher.
The college received 64 applicants through this technique last school year. It ultimately enrolled 23 of them, though a few of them deferred entry for a year. The vast majority of its admissions continued to be through the regular process of submitting a transcript, a personal essay and recommendations. SAT or ACT scores for regular applicants are optional. Goucher has about 1,500 undergraduates.
Now the results are in from the first year of the video experiment, and the college says it was a success.
The grade-point average for students who had submitted a video application was 3.15 in the first semester of the school year, the college said. The average GPA for new freshmen overall was 3.11. Eighty-seven percent of the video-app students stayed for the second semester, close to the school’s overall first-year retention rate of 93 percent.
Goucher President Jose Antonio Bowen said in a news release that some questioned whether the school’s video application would be “missing a critical piece of applicant review by disregarding the high school transcript, the previously widely agreed upon best predictor of college accomplishment.”
“However, not just academics, but multiple indicators of student success — academic performance, retention rate, and campus community involvement — were similar among both populations,” Bowen said. “We really believe we’ve been successful in identifying one alternative way to uncover student potential, and we’re excited to welcome future students through this process.”
So Goucher is sticking with its experiment. The video application, as a substitute for transcripts and test scores, seems unlikely to catch fire elsewhere in higher education. Still it reflects a desire among some academics to think outside the box about college admissions.