It's time to face up to the reality that the process of applying for colleges has become part of a giant industry, writes Elizabeth Milne Kahn for WireTap. Training programs to increase test scores, standardized tests, and college application fees have all contributed to extreme pressure -- and costs -- for high school students heading to college. Gone are the days when high schoolers would apply to two or three colleges, says Kahn. Now, The Higher Education Research Institute reports that the percentage of students who apply to seven or more schools has increased dramatically. And it's not uncommon for students to apply to as many as 12 schools. Parents who can afford to empty their bank account will do so, says Kahn, just to see that their kids get into the "right school." But students who aren't on that elite track are at a disadvantage and are increasingly lost in a complicated system of expensive applications and fees. From exams alone, a study found that The College Board earns more than $125 million each year from testing revenue. The same study found that students spend more than $100 million on test preparatory materials every year.