Colleges use a lot of factors to determine who gets an acceptance letter. Most parents are aware of GPA, SAT/ACT test scores, essays and extracurricular activities. However, one that is often overlooked is something colleges call demonstrated interest.
The Atlantic article titled The Bursting of the College Bubble discussed how enrollments are down at colleges. Some of the reasons include fewer teenagers in the US and more adults staying in the workforce (many went back to school during the Great Recession).