Four years ago, Kalamazoo College faced a shrinking number of Michigan high-school graduates, declining applications and an endowment getting hammered by the recession.
Then the small, picturesque liberal-arts school decided on a bold step. It started publicizing test results showing what its students had learned in their four years—a surprisingly rare strategy in a higher-education industry that usually prefers to keep such things private.
Parents of prospective students "come here and they want to know, 'What are we getting for our money?' " said Eric Staab, Kalamazoo's dean of admissions, who credits the change with helping the school weather the recession in relatively good shape. "This gave us some data to stand on."