[shareaholic app=”share_buttons” id=”23825847″] By May 1st, the last college decisions will be made, and the college admissions process is will have come to a close. The college application process has always been daunting for students; however, according to high school guidance counselors and admissions experts, the newly competitive admissions environment has created significantly heightened anxiety for students. A spokeswoman for the Common Application, Aba Blankson, stated that the number of students using the Common Application increased to 920,000 applicants in 2016 – up from 847,000 applicants compared to April of last year. According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling, 32 percent of students applied to 7 or more schools in 2013 alone. With applications soaring, colleges are able to be more selective – especially the most highly ranked schools. Although students continue to increase the number of applications they submit, and colleges continue efforts to increase their selectivity, the average nationwide acceptance rate at four-year colleges has stayed at about 65 percent, according to David Hawkins, the executive director for educational content and policy at the National Association for College Admission Counseling. Elite schools and the students who apply to them are feeling the brunt of this effect. For instance, This year, Yale admitted only 6.3% of its applicants, due largely to a vastly expanded applicant pool. Now, more than ever, students should do everything possible to ensure high GPAs, test scores, and focused extracurriculars to continue standing out – especially if they’re looking to attend an elite university.