In Admissions, Old Playbook Is Being Revised

The Admissions Playbook Is Up for Revision 1

Sarah Weeden for The Chronicle

"When I stand up and talk to parents, I tell them I'm not going to bore them and insult them by saying how nice the trees are and how nice the buildings are," says Robert Murphy, of Hobart and William Smith Colleges. "If you're the dean of admissions now, you'd better be able to talk about outcomes."

To solve a mystery, one must search for clues. So in August, St. Mary's College of Maryland polled the 1,700 teenagers who had been offered slots in this fall's freshman class. The underlying question: Why had so many of them decided not to come?

St. Mary's offered students a chance to win an iPad if they answered a handful of questions. Those who planned to enroll elsewhere were asked what, if anything, the college could have done to sway them. All were