College: Seniors Get Revenge

Dan Lundquist, the dean of admissions at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y., calls the next few weeks "seniors' revenge." After agonizing over getting in, the class of 2003 now gets to sort through acceptances and decide whom they will reject. With the fierce competition to increase rankings by boosting yield--the percentage of accepted students who enroll--colleges this year are wooing seniors with lavish parties, slick mailings and Web sites where admitted students can dish. Minnesota's Macalester College attempts to create a virtual community by letting seniors chat online on topics ranging from the student paper to how New Yorkers adjust to St. Paul.

But last week Franklin & Marshall College, a respected liberal-arts school in Pennsylvania, took the courting a step further with a $75,000 newspaper ad campaign that featured a congratulatory message and names of accepted students. The first ad ran in The New York Times on April 2. John Braunstein, F&M's interim dean of admissions, says he hopes students "will say that Franklin & Marshall took that extra step for me." Will it work? Seeing his name in the Times certainly "increased the school's standing in my mind," says Bennett Williamson, a senior at Hunter College High School in New York. But he thought the ad seemed "a little crass... so it dropped a few points on the integrity scale." He's also considering other schools. But the game's not over yet. After the first ads, Braunstein says the NCAA told F&M the campaign violated recruiting rules (even though it didn't target athletes). Braunstein says F&M disagreed, but pulled other ads for this week. The NCAA could not be reached for comment.