The chart from UCLA’s Cooperative Institutional Research Program (via The Chronicle of Higher Education) needs little explanation. The majority of students in the early seventies sent out one or two college applications (the largest number, just one). The majority today sends out five, six or more (the largest number, seven or more). Whether it is the ease of access to information about options, or the ease of applying to multiple colleges via the Common App, the Internet has created a national (increasingly international) competitive space in higher education.
This creates on one hand budget demands for marketing and communication, but it also multiplies the options for students, and thus the likelihood that they will find the option that is right for them.