60 Seconds to Shine: Grading University Brand Videos


You’ve already learned the chords to your favorite song and watched cats flush the toilet.  When is the last time you took a really good look at what colleges and universities use as their introduction to the world?

Today’s university YouTube channels function as mini-websites, with a short introduction video at the top and categories (typically student life, academic, alumni, etc.) that segment everything else. With more than 1 billion users spending hundreds of millions of hours on the site each day, no school can afford to miss the mark.

If a 60-second video sparks prospective students’ interest and helps them find their dream school – job well done. Tough to do in under a minute, but some institutions are making it happen.


I found YouTube channels for three of the top 20 colleges with the most applicants according to Niche’s 2015 college rankings. As a recent graduate with a BA in mass communications, I put myself back in college search mode and evaluated each introductory video.



If you wanted to convince me an education from UCLA could solve the world’s problems, show me this video. I could write at length about how well this is made – not surprising either, considering UCLA has a top-notch film program and is ranked #1 on the aforementioned list. It’s both shot and written incredibly, the concept is great and the unique programs UCLA has to offer are highlighted. I want to know more.

Grade: A+


This video focuses on the student-alumni connection Penn State has to offer (apparently the largest active alumni association in the world). Although the statue imagery is compelling, I’d like to see some shots that put me in the shoes of students and alumni.  The script delivers the message but supporting visuals aren’t as strong, taking points off.

Grade: B+


Academic integrity, athletic spirit, experiential learning opportunities! Northeastern is showing a variety of aspects of campus life, but with nothing more than dense text and short, shaky shots. The high-paced energy they are after only leaves me with confusion and a throbbing head. Bonus points for the distorted bass guitar tone, though. Great concept, but a missed opportunity in terms of delivery.

Grade: B-

VCU (bonus homage to my alma mater)

None of my professors ever came in on a longboard…though my calculus professor didn’t wear shoes most of the time.

Video presentations are a must-have enrollment marketing standard. With less than 60 seconds to make an impression, don’t let your audience blink.


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