By Samantha Cooper
Nearly a year ago, Goucher College announced the arrival of the Goucher Video Application (GVA).
The GVA allows applicants to send a two-minute video in place of the traditional college application. Students applying through GVA must also send in two pieces of graded work, one of which must be an essay, as part of the application process. Transcripts and SAT or ACT scores are not required.
The announcement sparked a debate around the country over whether a student’s college aptitude could be determined without their transcripts. Many people expressed their concern, making the comparison between the video application and Elle Wood’s video essay from “Legally Blonde.”
Students accepted via GVA have been at school for nearly a month now. While it still might be early to tell how well the students will do at Goucher, the admissions staff considers the unique method to be a success.
Sixty-four students applied through GVA out of a total 3,654 applicants. Approximately 58 of those GVA applicants were accepted, and 17 decided to enroll.
This is a small percentage out of the total number of first year students (around 400), but six more of the GVA applicants deferred their enrollment until next year. That means the Class of 2020 already has six GVA applicants ready to enroll. More than half of those who applied through the video application for this academic year were students of color, five of whom chose to enroll.
Students who enrolled through GVA came from diverse backgrounds. Overall, however, they all fit the typical profile of a Goucher student, embodying values and principles that we promon campus. There were thirty different majors represented in the videos, including those who were undecided.
Allie Sklarew ’19 was the first official GVA applicant. She first heard about the GVA in “The Washington Post” but was already considering Goucher as a possible college, saying that she was drawn to the community here. Sklarew is interested in studying sociology and peace studies. One of the main things that set her video apart from the others was that she included a clip of herself speaking about organ donation. Sklarew had a heart transplant when she was a toddler, and thus, she is a supporter of organ donation.
According to Sklarew, the application wasn’t as simple as clicking on a camera and recording. Because of the way her video was formatted, the entire process took between three to four hours. The most difficult part for her was fitting the entire video into two minutes.
Marissa de la Viez ’19 could be considered one of the perfect candidates for the video application, since her passion is video editing.
“Editing…kind of came naturally to me,” de la Viez said. “It was something that I was into.” What also drew de la Viez to use the video application was that it was much simpler for her to figure out than the Common Application. Like Sklarew, de la Viez had heard of Goucher before, as the son of her rabbi as well as a friend are currently students here.
No other students were available for comment. If Sklarew and de la Viez were taken as the typical GVA applicant, the demographics of Goucher might not change as much as originally thought.Whether the GVA will increase all aspects of diversity at the school—including racial identity, economic class and gender orientation—has yet to be seen. At present, no one knows how things will change in the next few years.
According to Admissions Director Corky Surbeck, “The vast majority of enrolled GVA students ultimately submitted a transcript.” The majority of those who submitted a transcript had grades in line with the typical Goucher applicant.
The transcripts sent in more or less matched those of a typical Goucher student applying through the traditional method. Obviously, this lessens the worry that the students who apply using the video application are unprepared to meet the expectations that come with pursuing a liberal arts education.
For those who work in the Office of Admissions, the Goucher Video Application is considered a success.
“There were two really successful components of the GVA,” Admissions Counselor Chris Wild said. “One is that it started a national conversation about the admissions process and how students are being left out.”
Wild added, “[GVA] got some really interesting students to campus. We’re able to have a conversation with them about college…I think ultimately, we found students who were really interested in Goucher.”
There are currently no large changes planned for the GVA, as the process seemed to go off without a hitch.The future of the Video App seems rather clear-cut, and the applicant pool is expected to grow in the upcoming year.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if the applicant volume doubles itself,” Surbeck said. “I would be surprised if it didn’t.”