College admissions process takes considerable time and involves multiple steps, deadlines and choices, including fees, essays, college visits and interviews. Students file separate applications to each school, although the Common Application expedites the process in many instances. Most undergraduate institutions admit students to the entire college and not to a particular department or major, unlike many European universities and American graduate schools, although some undergraduate programs such as architecture or engineering may require a separate application at some universities.

New developments in college admissions include increased numbers of applications, increased interest by students in foreign countries such as Britain in applying to American universities more students applying by an early method, applications submitted by Internet-based methods including the Common Application, increased use of consultants, guidebooks and rankings, and increased use by colleges of waitlists. 85 percent of applications in 2014 were submitted online.

Methods for funding students’ college educations shifted during the past few decades from families to the students themselves via loans, although many of them are federally subsidized; as a result, many students graduate from college with considerable debt, and future estimated indebtedness is increasingly becoming a matter of concern.

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