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Colleges Use ‘Bag of Tricks’ to Juice Application Numbers

Photographer: Hero Images/Getty Images

Bucknell University, the alma mater of novelist Philip Roth, attracted almost 8,000 applicants last year for 940 spots in its freshman class. That wasn’t enough for an admissions office seeking to enhance its image.

So this year, Bill Conley, the vice president for enrollment management, reached into what he called his “bag of tricks.” He cut Bucknell’s application fee to $40 from $60 and eliminated one of three required essays. The number of students seeking admission soared 40 percent, to almost 11,000.