They describe the admissions process this way:
"Like a machine Rube Goldberg might’ve built if he’d been really, really mean. For colleges aspiring to greater selectivity, the system’s undeniable inefficiency is by design. Each year, four-year institutions everywhere spend a fortune buying tens or hundreds of thousands of high-school students’ names from testing and other companies, and bombard those "suspects" with letters and emails. The hope is that, as they move through the recruitment funnel, enough of them become interested "prospects," then, ideally, applicants, at which point the bulk of colleges, tuition-dependent and not world-famous, scramble to admit and enroll a certain number (to meet their enrollment and revenue goals), while the wealthiest, choosiest institutions use elaborate criteria to whittle down vast numbers in an intensive exercise known as crafting a class. That’s an artful term for how colleges satisfy their many interests, for this much tuition revenue and that much diversity, this many legacies and that many goalies, and enough engineering majors to keep the program strong.