Nov 28, 2014

Videographer alert: 10 very cool video scholarship competitions

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Lights! Camera! Action! 

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! Just follow the rules and be aware that 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 an annual college scholarship awards program supporting an essay component as well as a video challenge and a photo-based competition. This year, local college-bound credit union members are being asked to produce a 60-second video explaining “the value of credit union membership,” with a deadline of March 31, 2015.

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.

Note that a number of colleges are now offering video scholarship competitions, like the Arizona State University Sustainability Champions Scholarship, which is open to incoming freshmen who have completed their applications for admission. 

And some of the more visible national competitions include the following ten opportunities 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, 2014. Details are provided on the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America website.

Bridgestone Teens Drive Smart Video Contest:  This contest usually opens in early April with a very quick entry period ending in mid-June.  Scholarships are generous, and the top ten finalists will receive a set of tires for their innovative videos.

C-SPAN’s Student Cam:  Students are asked to create a 5- to 7-minute video documentary on “a policy, law, or action by either the executive, legislative, or judicial branch” that “has affected you or your community.”  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, 2015.

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, 2015. 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.

‘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, 2015.

NACE Corrosion in Motion Video Contest:  This contest is open only to full time students currently enrolled in high school or an accredited college.  To enter, upload a video (no more than 4 minutes)showing the effects of corrosion to the contest website by no later than December 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 April 1, 2015

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 16, 2015.

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 Thursday, February 19, 2015 (5:00 pm Eastern US time).

Nov 26, 2014

20+ very good reasons freshmen look forward to Thanksgiving

Many of those newly-minted college freshmen who were stressing over applications exactly a year ago are finally coming home for Thanksgiving break.  For some, it’s the first time they’ve slept in their own beds for over three months.

And not surprisingly, 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 tend to celebrate their newly-acquired 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 several 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 still in charge of the trash and your sister continues to need a ride to her piano lesson.

There will be no less than a thousand and one 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 end over Thanksgiving break.  

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

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 20+ excellent reasons college freshmen look forward to coming home for Thanksgiving:
  1. A student ID will not be required to get in the house or gain access to your bedroom.
  2. As long as mom is in charge, you won’t run out of underwear.
  3. Dad is not likely to schedule a midnight fire drill or set off the smoke detector for fun.
  4. No one will want to borrow your class notes, calculus book, or iPod.
  5. The house won’t constantly smell like burnt popcorn.
  6. You won’t be sleeping on the common room sofa because your roommate is “entertaining.”
  7. There’s no need to wear flip flops in the shower or worry about who might have used your soap.
  8. You don’t have to pole vault into a bed lofted 2 feet above your head.
  9. No one will walk off with your shampoo.
  10. Your sheets will have been washed within the past two months.
  11. The kitchen won’t close earlier on Fridays and weekends.
  12. You won’t be forced to carry on a conversation with a person in the next stall.
  13. Laundry facilities may be available other than between 3 and 4 am; quarters or other forms of payment should not be required.
  14. There’s really no possibility of locking yourself out of your room.
  15. Access to a car could be within the realm of possibility.
  16. You don’t have to put on a coat and trek across the lawn in the freezing cold for breakfast.
  17. The party down the hall probably won’t go on all night.
  18. The furry creature under your bed is most likely the family cat and not a 3-month accumulation of dust bunnies.
  19. It’s unlikely that anyone in your family will bang on your door after midnight and want to “talk.”
  20. 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 21, 2014

20 colleges with outrageously low admit rates

Stanford has the lowest admit rate in the country.

There’s lots that’s wrong with the college admission system, and much of it relates directly to the interpretation and use of “numbers.”  

In an era where “big data” is king, enrollment management experts are hired by colleges to tease out meaning from numbers, in part by analyzing what they refer to as the “funnel” or the flow of admissions activity from marketing to matriculation. 

One particularly troublesome number sitting at the small end of the funnel equates excellence with rejection and is defined as a college’s “selectivity.” 

It’s a number schools have found relatively easy to manipulate by aggressively marketing to large groups of students and simultaneously tightening admissions screws through policies like binding Early Decision, which virtually guarantee an admitted student’s matriculation. 

And for these schools, more applications and tight control translate into more rejections.  More rejections mean increased selectivity.  And with selectivity comes prestige.

These are schools Jon Boeckenstedt, DePaul University’s vice president for enrollment management, referred to as “uber-selectives” in a recent interview with the Chronicle of Higher Education, some of which “are clearly waist-deep in the arms race to reach the ‘as close to zero as possible’ admit rate….”

And so in the backwards world of college admissions, schools proudly point to how few students they were able to accept in any given year as a badge of honor.

It’s this line of thinking that led colleges like Washington and Lee University, the US Naval Academy or the University of Iowa to include incomplete applications in applicant counts reported to the federal government and others. 

By reporting more applicants, these schools generate lower admit rates and appear more selective in the highly competitive market for applicants. While the “rules” are a little unclear, these counts are deceptive at best.

It’s worth noting that US News and World Report uses the admit rate as one metric in determining “best colleges,” which greatly enhances the number’s value to enrollment management.

But reality is a little more complicated. Some of the most “exclusive” colleges in terms of selectivity are there because they offer a specific kind of experience or have a corner on the education market. Others have low admission rates because tuition is free or extremely low.

So those who think the nation’s lowest admission rates are only found within the Ivy League will be surprised to find that the Curtis Institute of Music (5%)* and the Julliard School (7%)* are right at the top along with Harvard, Stanford, and Yale for the lowest admit rates in the country.

Locally, the Naval Academy (7.4%) once again topped the list, with Georgetown University (17.1%), Washington & Lee (18.4%), and Johns Hopkins (17.1%) all coming in under 20 percent.  Liberty University (21.2%), the Corcoran College of Art and Design (27%),* the University of Virginia (30.1%), the University of Richmond (31.2%), and the College of William and Mary (33.2%) also made it onto the US News top 100* list.

And for the record, here 20 colleges boasting of some of the nation’s lowest acceptance rates* (the rest of the list may be found on the US News website):
  • Stanford University:  5.7%
  • Harvard University:  5.8%
  • Columbia University:  6.9%
  • Yale University:  6.9%
  • Princeton University:  7.4%
  • US Naval Academy:  7.4%
  • Cooper Union:  7.7%
  • MIT:  8.2%
  • University of Chicago:  9.8%
  • US Military Academy:  9%
  • Brown University:  9.2%
  • Alice Lloyd College:  9.4%
  • Dartmouth College:  10.4%
  • Claremont McKenna College:  11.7%
  • College of the Ozarks:  12.2%
  • University of Pennsylvania:  12.2%
  • Duke University:  12.4%
  • Vanderbilt University:  12.7%
  • Pomona College:  13.9%
  • Northwestern University:  14%
* All specialty art and music colleges were dropped this year from the US News top 100 list