Best 5 University Promo Videos

Update (July 24, 2012): This post has consistently remained one of the top visited posts on this site. While I haven’t removed anything from the selection below, Columbia moved their video to YouTube, so I’ve updated the embedded player to reflect that. I also wanted to disclose that I am now a content undergraduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, which is why I’ve added a second Penn video to the Most Inspiring section. I know — I cheated. It’s 6 videos now.

I’ve been watching a lot of promotional videos for universities, generally published by their admissions offices to attract students, and some really stood out. Many are quite long, but they’re definitely worth watching in full.

Most Awesome: “That’s Why I Chose Yale

The opening might be boring and conventional, but watch past the first minute — a pleasant surprise awaits.

Beautiful cinematography, great music… Yale’s video is a true piece of art, all the more so because it was produced by undergraduates at the university.

Most Inspiring: “True Learning” and “Making History: The Campaign for Penn

Penn’s 2009 admissions video starts off serenely, and soon crescendos into a deeply moving profile of the students’ lives. The scenery is beautiful, and the music is suited.

The University of Pennsylvania’s video is filled with a sense of purpose, of motivation and of inspiration.

July 24, 2012 update: here’s a fundraising video from Penn. I’m sure it would do a great job at attracting applicants, too. With its exciting music, and faster-paced narration, this new video, too, deserves the title of “Most Inspiring” — if anything, this video is even more engaging than “True Learning” above.

Most Elegant: “Places like Harvard

This is one of the most beautiful promotional videos I’ve ever watched. Harvard did a splendid job of presenting all the awe-inspiring statistics about the school in a way that is both simplistic and informative. On YouTube, Harvard has combined all its videos into one long video, but the specific segment I am referring to starts at 13:50.

Honestly, though, Harvard doesn’t need advertising.

Most Eloquent: “Columbia, An Introduction

Although Columbia’s video is heavily dominated by interviews and speaking, in stark contrast to the dynamic singing of Yale’s student-produced video, and even though it doesn’t carry the same wow factor of Harvard’s video, the words spoken in this video are the most moving.

Columbia’s video seems very genuine. Moreover, in the context of Columbia’s status as a world-class Ivy League university, its promo video, juxtaposed with the videos of Harvard and Yale, is unpretentious.

Most Relaxed: “Discover Stanford

It’s probably a testament to the West Coast lifestyle. Stanford’s video made university seem fun and playful, rather than studious.

Update (August 2, 2013): The original (slightly outdated) “Discover Stanford” video that this post referred to has been replaced by Stanford with a new series of admissions videos.

Notable Mentions

UPenn’s older video, “There’s Nothing Stopping Our Students” is also an inspirational work of beauty. It does focus more on students’ admission experiences, rather than how great the university is. That’s worth appreciating.