No Crew. No Lights. Just Great College “Day in the Life” Video Content

Digital Tools for College Recruitment

The students themselves were the director and the star.

Try before you buy. 

It’s a phrase you know all too well, and the best products and services do it because they’re confident you’ll love it so much, you’ll go all-in. 

But what about college? Or more specifically, selecting the college where you’ll spend four years of your life? How can the “try before you buy” concept work there? 

A quick tour of the campus isn’t going to show you what you need, and during a pandemic, it’s not even possible. Brochures and websites don’t give you those personal and authentic insights you’d want as both a student and a parent. 

It’s something the University of Central Florida (UCF) thought hard about. And their solution was to create a series of “day in the life” videos filmed by different student social media ambassadors attending UCF. 

Getting personal with crowdsourcing digital film tools.

The idea was simple enough; create a series of short films looking at a typical day in the life of different students. But instead of engaging costly film crews, which again were almost impossible to bring in due to CDC guidelines of physical distancing, UCF found an innovative way to bring their idea to life.

Let’s have student social media ambassadors film themselves to share their stories of what it is really like during distance learning, and how innovative professors & classmates are keeping the learning charging on at UCF.

The crowdsourcing tools already exist. By downloading Cinebody to their smartphones, students could film footage for a series of mini-documentaries and provide content that a regular film crew would never be able to get. The students themselves were the director and the star. And it gave them the chance to provide an intimate and honest look at life on and off campus, along with advice and routines to make life easier. 

For Erin, a critical piece of student insider knowledge was how to prep for the new norm of 7:30am Zoom lessons. On the other end of the spectrum, Frank Barberena showed how it was possible to balance home and college life, often working on school assignments from 9pm until midnight



Chelsea Velez, a journalism student, really embraced the platform to explain her typical day. And despite everything being digital these days, a major piece of advice was to “carry a handy dandy notebook” at all times. Because that’s what reporters do. This is the kind of inside look that prospective students and their parents really want to see. No gloss. No fluff. Just genuine stories. 

UCF was able to create a shot list for each participant to follow, and could give feedback as it came in. And as all the footage is uploaded in real-time, in its raw format, it made editing and directing a breeze for the University’s in-house team

“The experience of every student attending the University of Central Florida is unique, and we wanted to capture that in the most authentic way possible,” said Carly McCarthy Hollowell, social media manager for UCF. “Cinebody not only made it easy to create these ‘day in the life’ videos, but gave students the creative freedom and hands-on experience to direct their own video. And seeing the diversity of the stories tells me what we’re doing at the University of Central Florida is meaningful.”


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What does this mean for colleges and the future?

This kind of personal and unique storytelling is ideal for college recruitment and awareness. It’s also the only really practical and affordable way to unite students around the world, as the ISEP proved by connecting their students in over 300 universities across more than 50 countries. 

But it goes way beyond that. The recent COVID-19 quarantine put a huge damper on many graduation ceremonies, postponing or outright cancelling them. But Rutgers University saw a way to leverage crowdsourcing to create a virtual event that was a huge success. 

What is evident is that colleges don’t have to throw money at recruitment, awareness, or morale-boosting initiatives. Simply by tapping into the tech every student carries with them, and the latest digital film tools, you can have impact and reach without busting the budget. And that is always going to be the preferred option for any campaign.