Nov 30, 2013

10 Pretty Cool Video Scholarship Competitions

Are you an aspiring filmmaker or a small-screen producer of YouTube hits? Do you spend spare time creating storyboards or videotaping interviews?

If so, you might consider competing in any one of many video scholarship contests offered throughout the year.  In fact, with a little time and talent, you could turn a videography hobby into some real money.

And unlike writing essays, videos can be fun to produce!

But no two contests are alike. Some might ask for a promotional video for a product (usually their product) or they might be looking for a public service announcement promoting an important idea or event.

For example, the Credit Union Foundation of MD & DC sponsors a college scholarship awards program that supports both an essay component and a video challenge. And this year, local college-bound credit union members are being asked to produce a 60-second video explaining “what you can do to help yourself become financially literate.”

Like a scholarship essay, a scholarship video will take time and some effort to create. But keep in mind that a good scholarship video may make a cool addition to an arts portfolio if you are considering a film or video major.

Here are ten competitions for budding filmmakers:

AFA Teens Video Competition: This is an opportunity to reflect on why Alzheimer’s disease is becoming an increasingly important worldwide issue. Videos, along with an application and 200-word autobiography must be submitted by December 1, 2013. Details are provided on the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America website.

C-SPAN’s Student Cam:  Students are asked to create a 5- to 7-minute video documentary on the “most important issue the U.S. Congress should consider in 2014.”  All documentaries must contain a small amount of C-SPAN footage that relates to the chosen topic.  Submissions must be received by Monday, January 20, 2014.

Courageous Persuaders Video Scholarship Competition: Students are asked to create a 30-second TV commercial warning against the dangers of underage drinking. Open to all high school students, the Courageous Persuaders entry deadline is February 12, 2014. Note that production values in this contest are less important than “ideas.”

Dr. Pepper Tuition Giveaway:  Eligible students with a “one-of-a-kind story” are invited to upload a video explaining how they “want to make an impact” with their degree/education.  The video should include some reference to Dr. Pepper and must be no more than one minute in length. There are several different deadlines corresponding to different events. This contest is a little complicated, so check with the website for details.

Engineering for You Video Contest:  Individuals or teams create a 1- to 2- minute video showing engineering contributions that serve human welfare and the needs of society.  The “Best Video Overall” will be awarded $25,000, and there’s a “People’s Choice Award” of $5,000.  Entries are due to the National Academy of Engineering by March 31, 2014.

‘My Mentor Was Me’ Scholarship Video Challenge:  High school seniors produce and upload an original 1- to 3- minute video identifying and describing the impact a mentor has had on the pursuit of success and the importance of mentor-mentee relationships. Contestants must have an account on the mentoring site, and videos must be posted on their site by July 31, 2014.

Project Yellow Light Video Contest: High school students are asked to create a video designed to motivate, persuade and encourage teens to not drive distracted.  You can video yourself or a group or make a cartoon or a music video.  Just keep it to :25 or :55 seconds or less.  The top prize is $5,000.  Teams are welcome, and videos must be submitted by March 17, 2014.

Samsung SUPERHERO Video Competition:  Students are invited to create a 1- to 3- minute video about a historical figure.  The competition doesn’t require fancy or expensive video equipment—a camera phone can be used.  Entries are due by November 30, 2013 (if you miss this deadline, another will most likely follow).

Toyota Teen Driver Video Challenge:  If your friends were going to watch ONE video that made them think twice about making bad decisions behind the wheel, what would that video be?  Create that 60-90 second video and submit your video as a YouTube link and win up to $15,000.  Entries are due no later than March 13, 2014.

World of 7 Video Contest:  Create a short video public service announcement (PSA) that shows the connection between world population at 7 billion and one of several specified issues.  All high school students are eligible and all videos must be submitted by Friday, February 21, 2014.

Nov 27, 2013

Even More Reasons College Freshmen Look Forward to Thanksgiving Break

Many of those students who were stressing over college applications exactly a year ago are finally coming home for a well-deserved Thanksgiving break.

And they may have more on their plates than turkey and mashed potatoes.

First, there's the readjustment to house rules.  

It shouldn't come as a surprise that college students revel in their new-found independence.  Curfew is no longer a concept they care to understand.

But now that the family is back together, Mom is really excited about reconnecting and continuing a dialogue that abruptly stopped a couple of months ago.  

Dad expects you to fall back into the rhythm of the household and re-assume your role in the family.  Remember you're in charge of the trash and your sister needs a ride to her piano lesson.

There will be no less than one thousand questions about what you've been doing and who you've been doing it with.

And chances are that a failing long distance relationship  will meet its end over Thanksgiving break.  

In fact, so many freshman couples split over Thanksgiving weekend that college administrators have dubbed the phenomenon, the “Turkey Drop.”

"You're a cad if you break up around Christmas. And then there's New Year's — and you can't dump somebody right around New Year's. After that, if you don't jump on it, is Valentine's Day," according to sex advice columnist Dan Savage. "God forbid if their birthday should fall somewhere between November and February—then you're really stuck. Thanksgiving is really when you have to pull the trigger if you're not willing to tough it out through February."

But absent any pending romantic traumas, college freshmen may actually be a little homesick and welcome the tender loving care that comes with a few days at home.

And while Mom’s cooking and a clean bathroom rank high on the lists of reasons why freshmen look forward to the holiday, it might surprise prospective college students how much life changes and why home looks pretty good after a couple of months in a residence hall.

For those who wonder, here are a few excellent reasons college freshmen look forward to coming home for Thanksgiving:
  • At home, mashed potatoes and stuffing aren’t served with an ice cream scoop.
  • As long as mom is in charge, you won’t run out of underwear.
  • It’s unlikely that dad will schedule a midnight fire drill or set off the smoke detector for fun.
  • No one will ask to borrow your class notes, calculus book, DVD, or iPod.
  • You won’t be sleeping on the common room sofa because your roommate is “entertaining.”
  • There’s no need to wear flip flops in the shower or worry about who’s using your soap.
  • Mom isn’t likely to prank you.
  • You don’t have to pole vault into a bed lofted 2 feet above your head.
  • No one will walk off with your toothpaste.
  • Your sheets will have been washed within the past two months.
  • You don’t have to carry on a conversation with a person in the next stall.
  • Laundry facilities may be available other than between 3 and 4 am; quarters or other forms of payment should not be required.
  • Access to a car should be within the realm of possibility.
  • You don’t have to put on a coat and trek across the lawn in the freezing cold for breakfast.
  • The party down the hall probably won’t go on all night.
  • The furry creature under your bed is most likely the family cat and not a 3-month accumulation of dust bunnies.
  • A student ID will not be required to get in the house or gain access to your bedroom.
  • It’s unlikely that anyone in your family will bang on your door after midnight and want to “talk.”
  • Earplugs won’t be necessary to block out your roommate’s loud music, snoring, and/or video games.
And for better or worse, Thanksgiving dinner will not be served on a slightly damp plastic tray.
Welcome home to all those who are fortunate enough to get there!

 Image from Jelene's Photostream on Flickr

Nov 25, 2013

When Colleges invite Graded Papers

Amherst College invites the submission of graded papers

Colleges look for evidence of an applicant’s writing skill in a number of different places. 
They may carefully review grades in writing-intensive English, history, and social science classes.  Or they require one or more essays as part of an application for admission.  

Some colleges factor in SAT or ACT writing scores during their evaluations.  Less frequently, they might even download and review an essay written for a standardized test.  

And a handful of colleges invite or require the submission of a “graded” paper in lieu of an essay or as a stand-alone component of an application.

At last count, no less than 22 Common Application member colleges, including Amherst, Brandeis, Sarah Lawrence, and Agnes Scott, have made provision for uploading or including graded papers within Writing Supplements or through separate submissions available via their websites.

And it’s not such a bad idea.

"Requests for graded writing samples are becoming increasingly common among colleges, demonstrating a move toward a more holistic evaluation of applicants beyond test scores,” explained Daniel Stern of College Essay Organizer.  “Graded papers allow applicants to showcase their writing and reasoning skills on their own terms—the SAT and ACT essays are a bit of a joke and aren’t taken that seriously by colleges because of how they are scored."

Graded papers not only provide insight into a student’s basic writing ability, but they also speak volumes about a high school’s grading system.

For example, an “A” on a paper filled with grammar, spelling or syntax errors obviously diminishes the value of the grade and suggests the possibility of grade inflation at work within a specific class or at the high school in general.  And it may say something about the applicant’s ability to recognize fundamental mistakes in his or her own work.

On the other hand, a “C” on a beautifully written essay could be indication of a particularly difficult or demanding class or school.

But it’s not always easy to discover if a college is inviting a graded paper and how it should be submitted, particularly through the Common Application.

Although the new Common App offers flexible tools within the Writing Supplement for uploading a graded paper, a number of colleges have mysteriously chosen to forgo this option.  

For these members, the Common App may provide a very easy-to-miss link on the "My Colleges" page under “Test Policy.”  If you follow the link, you will generally be given instructions for submitting the paper, usually via mail, email, or fax.  

To make things even more challenging, sometimes a link shows up within the Common App “Knowledgebase.”   This clue appears under the “Help Center” column to the right of the college-specific preferred testing question after you mark your intention to go test-optional.

And sometimes, the Common Application provides no information relative to paper submissions.  In this case, you're on your own to find instructions on a school’s website.  

"Even when the option to submit a graded writing sample is required, as is the case with Bennington College, it does not always appear on the Common Application,” Stern added. “It is listed only on the college's own website, but you're not always told to look there.”

So how does an applicant find out if a college requires the submission of a graded paper or will accept a paper in lieu of an essay?

The best place is within the admissions requirements listed on a college website. And take an extra hard look at colleges that are test-optional as many of them invite graded papers.

But another possibility is to use a service or software that aggregates essay requirements, like College Essay Organizer, which will point you in the direction of schools that allow substitutions as well as provide you with links to specific requirements.

Here are some of the colleges uncovered with the help of College Essay Organizer that provide for graded paper submissions either on their websites or through the Common Application:
  • Agnes Scott (Link on My Colleges)
  • Amherst (Writing Supplement)
  • Augustana, IL (Link on My Colleges)
  • Bennington (Website)
  • Brandeis (Writing Supplement)
  • Chatham (Link on My Colleges)
  • Elmira (Writing Supplement)
  • Eugene Lang (Website)
  • Fairfield (Writing Supplement)
  • Franklin and Marshall (Link on My Colleges/Help Center Knowledgebase)
  • Green Mountain (Writing Supplement)
  • Guilford (Link on My Colleges)
  • Lewis and Clark (Link on My Colleges/Help Center Knowledgebase)
  • Mills (Writing Supplement)
  • Muhlenberg (Help Center Knowledgebase)
  • Sarah Lawrence (Website)
  • Stetson (Writing Supplement)
  • Susquehanna (Website only:  “Write Option”)
  • University of Scranton (Help Center Knowledgebase)
  • Ursinus (Writing Supplement)
  • Wheaton (Link on My Colleges)
  • Oberlin (part of the home school portfolio)
And here’s a tip for underclassmen:  begin saving or setting aside good examples of graded papers.  You never know when they might come in handy!

Nov 23, 2013

7,500 Early Applicants receive Good News from the University of Georgia

University of Georgia

Jumping ahead of many peer institutions, the University of Georgia (UGA) announced yesterday that admissions decisions were released for the more than 12,000 early action (EA) first-year applicants who were organized enough to submit their applications by the October 15th deadline.

Prospective UGA undergads learned their decisions by logging into an online application status check.  And students with completed applications (all supporting materials) received one of 3 possible decisions:  admit, defer, or deny.

According to a press release, UGA received a record 12,100 early action (EA) applications.  As is usually the case, the admitted group is academically strong, boasting of an average GPA of almost 4.0, mean SAT scores of 1364 (plus a writing score of 660), and an average ACT of 30.

Approximately 62 percent of UGA’s EA applicants were offered admission.  In addition to presenting strong numbers, the 7,500 admitted students have enrolled in an average of six to eight Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes.  Many have also enrolled in college courses.

Although the early application option is very popular, UGA wants to remind students that they are continuing to receive regular decision applications through January 15, 2014.  Students deferred from the early pool of applicants are encouraged to submit Part II of the application, and if they wish, mid-year senior grades and additional standardized test scores prior to deadline.

This year, UGA expects to receive in the range of 22,000 applications.

Students admitted through the early action option are not bound to accept the offer and may consider other colleges until the national reply date of May 1, 2014.