“Admissions directors at these institutions say that most of the students they turn down are such strong candidates that many are indistinguishable from those who get in.”
That’s from this New York Times piece, which cites that Stanford accepted an ultra-low 5% of candidates this year.
Part of the reason for such low admission rates? It’s way too easy to apply to multiple colleges with the common application, compared to the way it was less than a decade ago:
At the same time, students send more applications than they once did, abetted by the electronic forms that have become nearly universal, and uniform applications that can make adding one more college to the list just a matter of a mouse click. Seven years ago, 315 colleges and universities accepted the most widely used form, the Common Application; this year, 517 did.