Goodbye, Essays! 3 Alternatives for College Admissions

3 alternative college applications.

The traditional college landscape has seen many changes in recent years. Not only is it possible to earn a degree online, but getting an education has become more accessible, too. It has opened the doors to students who, in the past, may not have considered continuing their education. Additionally, this new generation of incoming students is different from the rest; they’re more connected on social media and they tend to think outside the box when it comes to various means of communication.

To gain the interest of new college hopefuls, a few universities have turned to alternative, and more appealing, ways for incoming students to submit applications.

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Here are 3 non-traditional ways students can apply for school and skip the college essays:

1. Video Applications

A fairly new means of applying is via video application. A few schools have started experimenting with this new admissions process, such as Goucher College. Instead of writing an essay, Goucher asks students to submit a video, a graded writing assignment, and one other sample of work from high school. The justification behind a video submission is to create a low-pressure option for students to express who they are and why they chose the college. This method gives students a chance to showcase their personality, something they wouldn’t otherwise be able to do with a written essay. They can highlight their unique skills and abilities or share video of their volunteer and extracurricular work

A popular site for students to create videos and set up profiles is ZeeMee, which lets users upload videos and input information about their accomplishments. They can then share their profile with participating universities and colleges, and even use it to apply for internships. ZeeMee users can also endorse their friends’ skills, take online mentoring workshops, and complete lesson plans for college prep.

2. On-The-Spot Admissions

For students who are certain about the university they want to attend, they can interview with an admissions officer. They’ll ask questions concerning their high school experiences, what interests the student has in the university, and will check SAT scores, transcripts, and teacher recommendations. This process eliminates the hassle of completing online applications and the long wait for an acceptance letter. A few schools that offer on-the-spot admissions are University of Houston, West Virginia University, the University of Maryland, and Suffolk University. The interview is a chance to impress the university in person, thus eliminating the need for an essay.

3. Single Application

The idea of one application for multiple colleges, such as the Common Application, is not new; however, recent sites have cropped up that offer more for students. Websites like Embark and Xap provide a platform for applicants to fill out a college form to be sent to multiple universities, talk with online advisors about the admissions process, determine which college is best for them, and even complete online workshops. The idea of the single application is to cut down on the stress of writing multiple essays. The website’s resources are also beneficial for incoming students to prep for college and even explore different career fields. Applying for colleges already comes with enough anxiety, but the idea of filling out a single application and writing one essay helps alleviate that strain.

As nerve-racking as it may be to apply for college, many online resources have partnered with universities to attract students to their schools. Whether they apply through video or single application, incoming freshman have more opportunities to impress colleges with their personality and not just their writing skills. Moreover, providing assistance, preparation, and guidance gives them a positive experience, which is important for incoming students. Writing an essay may soon be a thing of the past. We’ll see more universities like Goucher offering undergrads a means to show who they are rather than write who they are.

Alternative college admissions methodsJessica Gibbs studied Apparel Merchandising and Communications/Journalism at Colorado State University. She is currently a guest writer for CollegeFocus, a website dedicated to helping students deal with the challenges of college, including housing, finance, style, health, relationships, and transferring from a community college to a four-year university.

You can learn more about CollegeFocus on Twitter and Facebook.


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