[caption id="attachment_48346" align="alignleft" width="150" caption="The University of Michigan admitted 42 out of 4,498 waitlisted students last year."][/caption]

College applicants shouldn’t rely on a viral YouTube video to spring them from the confines of a university’s lengthy wait list, admissions officials say—despite the success of one high-profile applicant whose video plea went viral.

Campus admissions officials frown on gimmicks like tins of homemade cookies or phone calls from vaguely famous relatives. But for one college hopeful, a Motown love song did the trick: After posting a YouTube video of himself singing about his love for...

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