So what better way to have college admissions officers get a better look at you than by giving them a true look at you?
That's the idea being video college-admissions essays. It's a concept gaining popularity, according to filmmakers Rosa Wolfe and Max Kiefe of ThisIsMeVideo.com.
After helping their own children create video essays to supplement their traditional essays, the couple realized the potential for video in the application process. They found a growing popularity for essay videos, but also saw that many were poorly produced and, as a result, didn't put the students' best traits out front.
"We knew we could help," the couple says in an interview on Examiner.com. "What makes a video application work? There is plenty of information about a written essay, but this is something new – a pretty exciting new challenge."
In the process they created their website and created a guide, "How To Make A Winning College Application Video Essay: Everything You Need To Know From Idea To Upload."
"I can't imagine any admissions officer not reading the (written) essay or being bamboozled by a video," the couple says. "If scores and essays aren't top-notch, the video won't help. Competitive grades and scores come first, and then admissions may consider the video.
"In the case of a student with all great numbers, a video would help distinguish him, put a face there. How do 800 valedictorians get turned down by Stanford? Being a super-achiever is clearly not enough."
Check out this video essay supplement, created by ThisIsMeVideo.com:
Can your college essay help you make up for everything you didn't achieve in high school? Don't count on it.
"It's an urban myth that a student who has goofed off his whole academic career can get in with a come-from-behind epic struggle in which the essay serves as the primary tool," says Barmak Nassirian, former associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, interviewed by The Associated Press.
"It's not a substitute for a rigorous curriculum, good grades and evidence that you're going to do well," he added.
Parke Muth, former associate dean of admissions at the University of Virginia, agrees.
"If you have 18,000 or 20,000 applicants, for some of those students, the essay makes a huge difference, both positively and negatively," he said.
There's a lot parents can do to be supportive and relieve stress as their children struggle through writing their college essays.Most of all, talk to your kids, advises Debbie Merion, founder of Essay Coaching.
"Talk with your student about where you went to school, or where you wish you had gone to school. Visit colleges, and talk to admissions officers. Ask admissions officers for email addresses of students your high school student can chat with.
"This is an interesting time for parents, figuring out how much to push," Merion writes. "Most parents find it challenging. Talk to professionals. Talk to school counselors.Talk to other parents. But stay involved."
Arnie Rosenberg is the founder of The Center for Essay Excellence. He writes regularly about college essays and their importance to the college-admission process. Contact him at Arnie.Rosenberg.Editor@gmail.com.
© 2014 The Center for Essay Excellence