The New York Times blog on college admissions links to this discussion thread at College Confidential with parents posting comments on the “stupidest reason a child won’t look at a college.” Some entries included rejecting a college because the student leading the tour wore sandals or a student who rejected Duke because there were too many southern accents. There are the students who won't apply because they grew up opposing that school's sports teams. I had a student once who wouldn't apply to Duke because he'd grown up rooting for UNC.
One boy wouldn't apply to Washington University because there were just too many schools with Washington in their names while another student rejected Stanford because he thought the architecture was too "Taco Bell." And then there is the student who rejected the University of Michigan because of the size of the squirrels. There are those who reject Princeton because it's in New Jersey and those who applied to Yale because of Rory Gilmore going there on "The Gilmore Girls."
Many of the parents comment on how their child rejected a school because they didn't like the tour guide or the people in the admissions office. I can relate. When we toured Georgetown, I was very irritated by the girl giving the tour who wore see-through pink pants and a black thong that was completely visible through the pants. My daughter agreed that this was a distasteful sartorial decision but wouldn't have rejected the school for that reason - it might have been her choice if she hadn't gotten a scholarship offer elsewhere.
I always wonder at kids who come back from their college visits enthralled or put off by the school. When I ask them what they liked, it's often that the people seemed nice or off-putting. It's so serendipitous that the few people they happened to meet on an afternoon's tour will have such an impact on why they choose a school. But at least it wasn't the squirrels playing the determinative role in their decision!