I’m excited to announce that we have officially launched some major changes to the essay section of the Rotman application for 2013! The most significant, is the introduction of a video essay component, an innovative new tool developed by a fantastic start-up firm actually right here at the University of Toronto. The video essay component will replace our historical third and fourth essay, and will be comprised of two questions. Both questions are are designed to be answered without any advanced preparation and will allow us to get to know the personality, interests, passions, and talents of our applicants much better than we could in a written essay format. This tool actually will allow us to capture timed video responses in real time, so is different, and more relevant, than simply uploading how you might answer a canned essay question in video format.
The video essay is being run as a pilot project this year. We are very interested in learning what the tool demonstrates about our candidates and by introducing this new component at Rotman we are hoping to take a big leap away from the essay writing contest that has become the norm in the MBA admissions world, and actually use our essays to showcase what it is that makes candidates unique. In theory, essays are designed to demonstrate the unique traits and abilities of applicants, who may, on paper, appear to be quite similar. Unfortunately, with the proliferation of online message board and admissions consultants who try to convince applicants that there is a ‘right’ answer to these questions, submissions often sound very similar and instead of showcasing what makes a candidate an interesting and diverse prospective student, we often read similar stories about motivation to pursue the MBA. On the same note, the video essay in not an introduction of a video creation contest – we are interested in the content of your answers and not how well you can produce videos.
We already do video interviews for international applicants who we weren’t able to connect with in person with during our travels via Skype, so understand video is a comfortable medium for most of our candidates who frequently use video chat, Skype, face time, etc. to communicate with family and friends.
Ultimately, our goal in introducing this new component is for our admissions committee to make better decisions about which candidates are the strongest match with the Rotman program. There are a few reasons I believe this will happen, and I imagine we will uncover many more reasons as we evaluate the program:
- We want to consider candidates who may not present as strongly as they could ‘on paper’ (at least not yet – we know that our talented Careers team can help with this!) as identifying the ‘diamond in the rough’ type of talent is a group of students we don’t want our Admissions Committee to miss as we continue to grow the Program and see a bigger applicant pool each year
- This will provide us with an additional reference point beyond our current list of application requirements that tests communication skills (i.e. ability to think on your feet, communicate in a concise manner, etc.) along with demonstrates a diverse or well-rounded profile which is something we can’t begin evaluating until interviews at the moment and it is a key priority in order to build an interesting and diverse MBA class
- The video content can be stored, allowing the entire Admissions Committee to access and review this content when making admissions decisions instead of having only one ‘in person’ perspective on a candidate so we will get a broader opinion on each applicant
I was interviewed recently by Kira, the firm who developed this tool and shared some overall thoughts on why we love the product here: http://www.youtube.com/embed/sFmBCvio9ig
This video essay belongs where the title suggests – as a media-rich version of a ‘live’ essay question. This will not replace admissions interviews, as the depth of conversation and direct personal interaction is a truly invaluable part of the process.
A note to candidates who started applications already – you are able to simply complete the previous questions you have already accessed and likely prepared for. There is no penalty, and no preference, if this is the case. Otherwise, you can start a new profile and submit the video essay, along with the two shorter essay questions if you prefer. For any questions on this, please follow up with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember to be yourself, and have fun with this new feature.Good luck and happy filming! We look forward to your feedback on this new tool.