Video admissions model pays off for Goucher College

'I do think we've discovered a new way to identify talent, and it works'

Goucher College's students who applied with a two-minute video in lieu of traditional materials earned a higher average GPA than their peers who applied in the traditional way.

In 2014, Goucher announced it would allow students to record a video describing how and why they would thrive at Goucher and send in two examples of academic work from high school, one being a graded writing assignment. The school has long been test-optional.

Now, the first cohort of students accepted through this method has made it through their first semester—with slightly better grades than their peers. The video students earned an average GPA of 3.15, while the rest of the class received 3.11.

"I'm very excited. I do think we've discovered a new way to identify talent, and it works," says President José Antonio Bowen.

While Bowen admits the sample size was small—just 15 enrolled students applied through the video path—he also says it shows that mixing up the admissions process can work.

"The doors to innovation should be open. The traditional way is too expensive and too stressful," Bowen says.

Currently, admissions favors wealthy applicants, is too complex, and only looks at a narrow band of qualifications, he says. But Bowen says Goucher's new approach may help the small liberal arts college survive an enrollment crunch by increasing the diversity of applicants (Hoover, Chronicle of Higher Education, 2/8; Jaschik, Inside Higher Ed, 2/8).

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