The executive director of the Common Application, Rob Killion, has released the numbers of applications through January 15. According to him the Common Application had 1,281,196 applications this year (a 40% increase) from 367,994 unique applicants. This means the average applicant this year submitted about 3.5 applications through the Common Application. This number is consistent with the number of applications submitted per student in the past several years. This means that the increase in application numbers is due to more students using the Common Application which is consistent with the increasing number of colleges using the Common Application and the fact that the majority of the most selective colleges use this form for their applications.
These facts seem to confirm that the stories of students submitting 15, 20 or more applications is not the norm among students submitting college applications.
The Common Application also announced that 23 new colleges which will begin using the Common Application next year.