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by Vault Education Editors | April 01, 2011

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Time was, back in the late 1800s, schools were desperate for students. Like Kaplan University-desperate. The Times dug up some century-old ads elite schools placed in the paper’s classifieds, and they show an era when “college was once a buyer’s bazaar for qualified students.” Even Columbia, Harvard and Yale’s law schools were on the hunt for a few good students.

Harvard, perhaps fittingly, thought it best to namedrop, listing the names of renowned faculty members in ads run between 1868 and 1871.

Columbia opted for the more aggressive approach: the age-old tactic of bashing your competitors with one hand and promising the easy path with the other.

In an ad hovering over a pitch for cured hams on Oct. 7, 1871, Columbia Law School assured applicants that (unlike some rivals) its graduates were “admitted to the bar without further examination.”

And Yale Law School, maybe the most selective of all law schools now, might as well have donned a plaid wool jacket.

They included “access to library without extra charge,” eight weeks of fall vacation, three weeks of spring vacation and a two-week recess “embracing Christmas and New Year.” And, the ad noted, “students can enter or leave at any time.”

[NYT]

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