Education: Welcome To Madison Avenue

U. Students turn on the hype to win at the college-entrance game

After 25 years in the business, Richard Steele, director of undergraduate admissions at Duke University, thought he had seen them all. The eager ones. The teary ones. The ones who would do anything to get into the college of their choice. But last year a member of his staff ran across a genuine original. "Is there anything else I can do to strengthen my case?" Jennifer Tangora, a high school senior, inquired at the end of her interview. The admissions officer looked over her application, which was crammed with high grades, solid recommendations and documented achievements. "Seems to me the only...

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