For her college interview, Avery Cullinan put on her best outfit but didn't bother with shoes. She sat in her living room, smiled into her computer's webcam, and told an admissions officer more than 800 miles away that Wake Forest University was right for her.


"It's hard to part with money for a half-hour interview," said Cullinan, who avoided a costly trip from her home in Newburyport, Mass., thanks to the pilot program at Wake Forest. She was later accepted to the Winston-Salem, N.C., school.


The online interview was part of a push that started in May at the university. Admissions director...

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