Pick and Choose

Colleges’ Admission Agony

While high school seniors are typically a bundle of nerves this time of year, our Great Recession has given colleges similar levels of angst. Universities usually rely on statistical models to predict which students will accept their offers, but bargain-hunting families and changing demographics have changed all that. So colleges are trying new methods, but mostly they’re guessing—who’ll be feeling too poor to accept? Who’ll actually show up in August? “It’s a consumer confidence issue,” said a vice president for enrollment at Lawrence University in Wisconsin. “Families are feeling like they can’t afford it even if they’re in the same financial position they were three months ago.”