Your story matters.
During the college admissions process, sharing your story as part of your application provides context and gives you the opportunity to introduce yourself. In the past, this has been accomplished by submitting at least one essay with your college application and at some schools, scheduling a personal interview.
ZeeMee’s platform includes step-by-step instructions to create a standardized three-part video that can be viewed in a minute or two. It’s free of charge. The student owns the content. Privacy settings prevent a student’s video from being searchable. And no special equipment is needed to make the video beyond access to a smart phone.
“Selfie-style is genuine and real,” says Courtney Vaughn, an admissions officer at Elon University in North Carolina. “Don’t hire a professional — keep it casual.”
Vaughn credits the ZeeMee videos with helping her “connect with applicants on a deeper level.” When she can glean additional knowledge about an applicant from their video, she says she will “take that nugget of information to the admissions committee” to advocate for the student.
To be clear, Vaughn says that “the students who are in the middle of the applicant pool at Elon benefit the most” from submitting a ZeeMee video. Providing the additional information, as well as taking the time to show interest and effort, says Vaughn, contributes another positive layer to an application that might need the extra boost.
Other ZeeMee partner schools may also consider a student’s submission to help them create a well-rounded class; or to select among applicants for competitive honors programs or majors.
If you are applying to a school that encourages submission of a ZeeMee video or you would otherwise like to create one, here are some additional tips.
First Things First
There are three parts to a ZeeMee video: MEET ME, MY STORY, and ACTIVITIES.
Plan for about a one-minute (or less) MEET ME section to introduce yourself and tell the viewer “what you are passionate about and why their school… is perfect for you,” advises ZeeMee. If you are camera-shy, no worries — a teacher, friend, or slideshow can serve as your introduction.
For the second section, MY STORY, ZeeMee suggests this be a quick look at “what makes you, well, YOU.” Include some information about your family, what growing up was like, and how you like to spend your free time.
Limit the last section, ACTIVITIES, to between three and five of your favorite activities and bring them to life with “images, videos and documents to showcase your talent and achievements.” Again, keep it short. The entire video should be viewable in under two minutes.
But before you start putting these three parts together, spend a little time at ZIPS (ZeeMee Tips) and ZeeMee University. You can get some additional ideas and even see examples of other students’ videos.
Details and Dimensions
Once you have the basics created, continue to refine your presentation. To add layers of complexity and character, provide a variety of images to tell your story, not just the ones that show off your accomplishments.
For example, if you have discussed several types of art mediums you enjoy, include photos of each, as opposed to five pictures of your watercolors, even if watercolors are the only ones that have earned you accolades. (Because your whole story includes your efforts with chalk and charcoal, too.)
If you love soccer, five images of yourself scoring goals will be redundant. Consider adding a photo of you working out with your teammates; or of your soccer jersey collection; or of whatever conveys more facets of your story. (After all, your ten-year relationship with soccer surely isn’t primarily about the goals you’ve scored…)
Students with just one or two activities can showcase those activities more deeply. If you do only make drawings in watercolor, for example, feature images that express variety another way, such as subject matter or color choice or even a progression of your art throughout high school, as opposed to five similar watercolors you produced for the same project with the same theme.
Or, if baseball is your thing, include all of the ways you express your passion — sure, you have some great photos of yourself in action as your high school team’s shortstop, but what about all those impromptu neighborhood street games you started in the summer and the trips to your favorite professional team’s stadium and the hours you spend playing catch while chatting with your best friend? Those are part of your story, too.
Also note that your story does not have to be limited to your activities, so feel free to include anything important to you that you’d like to share: your family, your research, your ideas, your jobs, your challenges, your projects, your talents, your interests, your hobbies… And if you want to share something in detail – – maybe you’ve written a short story or competed on the debate team or performed in a talent show — just reference a link to your document or website or YouTube video.
(Note: If you plan to use photos that feature friends or family, get their permission first.)
Decide whether or not you will make your video public or private. Only the people you designate have access to a private video. A public video would be searchable using your name. (Note: you can easily switch from public to private at any time.)
Open your account early in high school. You can upload possible content to your ACTIVITIES section now, and review and edit it later when you are ready to put your video together.
When it’s time to submit your college applications, you’ll be able to paste your video link to the ZeeMee field for partner schools. For other schools, you can add the link to the “Additional Information” section with ZeeMee’s description: “Please take a second to see the Real Me!” Other options for sharing your ZeeMee video include sending it in an email to your regional admissions reps; including it on your resume; or adding it to your signature block.
If you have additional questions, you can visit the ZeeMee Help Center.
Short and Sweet
The last tip is to keep your video short (in case it wasn’t clear already!) — a minute or two is about right. Just as with your college essay, where every word counts, make every second of your ZeeMee video count by targeting the things that are most important to your story; be thoughtful about every image, caption or dialogue piece you include. And again, welcoming the viewer to your world from a more informal, homey, casual perspective will help you connect more authentically with your application reader. Think: heart and soul, not perfect and polished.
Will a well-done ZeeMee video alone get you admitted to a school? No, but it won’t hurt, and could help boost a borderline candidate’s admissibility or increase the odds for selection to a more competitive program.
It will also be good practice — it is highly probable that this college admissions video will be just one of many personal digital portfolios our technology savvy Snapchat Generation will create during their lives. In today’s world, says ZeeMee director Ethan Lin, “a digital identity is no longer an option.” Lin points out that students already have a professional side that their activities and academics and experiences all speak to; with ZeeMee, they can showcase their story in an easy-to-use platform where they are in control of what they share.