gollum123 sends this quote from the Chronicle of Higher Education: "The numbers keep rising, the superlatives keep glowing. Each year, selective colleges promote their application totals, along with the virtues of their applicants. For this fall's freshman class, the statistics reached remarkable levels. Stanford received a record 32,022 applications from students it called 'simply amazing,' and accepted 7 percent of them. Brown saw an unprecedented 30,135 applicants, who left the admissions staff 'deeply impressed and at times awed.' Nine percent were admitted. Such announcements tell a story in which colleges get better — and students get more amazing — every year. In reality, the narrative is far more complex, and the implications far less sunny for students as well as colleges caught up in the cruel cycle of selectivity. To some degree, the increases are inevitable: the college-bound population has grown, and so, too, has the number of applications students file, thanks in part to online technology. But wherever it is raining applications, colleges have helped seed the clouds — by recruiting widely and aggressively for ever more applicants. Many colleges have made applying as simple as updating a Facebook page. Some deans and guidance counselors complain that it's too easy. They question the ethics of intense recruitment by colleges that reject the overwhelming majority of applicants. Today's application inflation is a cause and symptom of the uncertainty in admissions."