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But when applicants visit campuses with presidential libraries—some of which include Marist College (Franklin D. Roosevelt), University of Massachusetts—Boston (John F. Kennedy), and University of Texas—Austin (Lyndon B. Johnson)—they may find the libraries are treasure troves hiding in plain sight.
The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library, for example, is located on the North Campus of University of Michigan—Ann Arbor. "It's sort of isolated," says Yossi Lichterman, a Michigan senior and the editor in chief of The Michigan Daily. "I bet the average student doesn't even know it's there."
Adam Rubenfire, a junior and senior news editor of the Daily, has never seen a poster, flier, or advertisement for the library, which he says is "out of place" among the engineering buildings on the North Campus.
Back on the Texas A&M campus, about 5,000 Aggies and students from nearby Blinn College visited the Bush library and museum in 2011, according to Will King, marketing and communications director at the library. That represented about a 20 percent increase in student foot traffic over 2010, according to the Bryan-College Station Eagle, but 5,000 students is less than one fifth of the nearly 40,000 students at A&M alone.
Cantú, the Aggie junior, says, "You don't have flocks of students going [to the Bush Library] every day." But Mary Grace Joseph, a member of Texas A&M's class of 2012, says it's a popular spot for dates, and her roommate recently got engaged in the gazebo near the pond where Bush 41 fishes.
"Aggies love that the Bush family comes to A&M so often," she says. "We also love that he built his library here. It truly is extraordinary and beautiful!"
But as highly as Joseph speaks of the library, she recommends that applicants weigh factors such as price, academics, and location of a school more heavily. "Presidential libraries are a wonderful perk," she says, "but not a reason to choose a school."
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Clarified on 6/4/12: A previous version of this article was not clear that the presidential library is adjacent to a University of Arkansas school.