Priceless artwork in a dorm room? Aaron Helgeson recently had an original Jackson Pollock on his Oberlin College wall. Renting art by the masters (in protective glass), at a cost of only $5 a semester, is a great perk for many Oberlin students. Schools everywhere are trying to lure them. Colorado College provides free shuttles to the ski slopes. Marquette gives students free bus passes throughout Milwaukee. "

'Marketing' is not really a proper word in college circles," says John Appley, an Oberlin spokesman. "But as the admissions process becomes more competitive, you've got to show what distinguishes you from everybody else." Helgeson, a composition and theater major, says access to art--borrowed from the university museum--was a key draw. He stood in line with hundreds of students overnight to get the Pollock. Next semester? "There's a Picasso I'm really hoping to get."

The list of goodies goes on and on. Northwestern University has an Internet hookup that allows students to watch cable TV on their PCs. Duke students get free daily copies of The New York Times and USA Today (but no room service). Emory has Atlanta Braves baseball tickets for freshmen. Seton Hall University, in suburban New Jersey, takes students to major art shows in New York City. American University in Washington, D.C., gives students discounted cell-phone plans. But the University of New Mexico says it beats them all: no tuition for in-state students (funded by state lottery).

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