There is a shortage of new ideas in college recruiting, and each one has a brief shelf life. Kudos, then, to Hamilton College in New York for being the first institution to think of printing a giant Quick Response code as an admissions poster.

Hamilton College’s recruitment poster.

“There’s a sea of pretty pictures, and we try to be prettier than all the other pretty pictures,” said Monica Inzer, dean of admission at Hamilton.

Hamilton is a typically picturesque liberal arts campus; one recent year, Inzer said, the school made a big splash with a picture of “a kid sitting on a stuffed chair out in a snow bank.”

It was hard to top that. So Inzer decided to think of something other than another pretty landscape. She settled on the QR code, which, to the uninitiated (myself included), is essentially a blotch of ink that communicates an Internet address to a smart phone, which can then bring up the address without the unthinkable toil of manually typing it in.

The maze-like image seems to bewilder adults, but it speaks to the college-bound crowd.

“I tested it with my staff, and half of them were like, ‘What is that?’” Inzer said. “I tested it with students, and 10 of 12 knew exactly what it was.”

The code takes visitors to this page on the Hamilton Web site, where they are greeted with a congratulatory message penned by Inzer— and an entire gallery of pretty pictures.