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Many universities have extended the customary May 1 deadline to reply to offers of admission to June 1 or even later.

Furman University has done that. But the South Carolina private university has gone further: it has reopened admissions for the year, accepting new applicants.

Many colleges have informally taken such a step. But Furman has formalized it, in effect throwing out the calendar.

M. Brad Pochard, associate vice president for enrollment and dean of admission and financial aid at Furman, said Furman in recent weeks received inquires from students in the region (North and South Carolina, Georgia, and eastern Tennessee) who had originally wanted to go to college far from home. Now they want to go to college close to home.

"Seven have already applied, and they are highly qualified applicants," Pochard said.

He said he was confident of reaching his enrollment target for freshmen -- 680. It's the third straight year that Furman has had a target in the 600s, after a decade of trying for the 700s. One advantage of Furman having made a conscious decision to shrink is that there is room should the college receive many applications.

Like his colleagues around the country, Pochard is worried about Chinese students showing up, but says he feels good about other applicants.

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