Colleges’ own recruiting may push students to spread applications around

Daniel de Vise

A new analysis of college admissions trends confirms what most high school seniors already know: Colleges are receiving thousands more applications than ever before, and each student is applying to more schools.
“Application inflation” is one of the most widely discussed but poorly documented trends in college admissions. Applications rose 47 percent at public colleges and 70 percent at private colleges between fall 2001 and fall 2008, according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling in Arlington County.
In a new report, “Putting the College Admissions ‘Arms Race’ in Context,” the group attempts to explain the unprecedented jump. Admissions officers point to a steady increase in the number of students applying to eight, 10 or 15 schools, particularly among top students courting selective colleges.