Seriously, my brother is going through the whole process right now, and it's a joke.
My brother applied to a bunch of colleges, and he's a pretty damn good student. He's got a 4.65 GPA on a 4.0 scale, 1540 of 1600 on his SAT's, 34 on his ACT's, he's been on varsity cross country since he was a sophomore, he won team MVP this year, and he's also a 3-year varsity track athlete who owns the school record for the sophomore mile. All the colleges he applied to (Rhodes, Illinois, Indiana, Notre Dame), he might not get any money from any of them. Same thing with my oldest brother. He had a 4.73 GPA out of 4.0, 1420 SAT and 34 ACT, and was a 3 sport varsity athlete (football, basketball, track) and he started in all of them. The money he received was minimal at best.
However, my family and I have researched the kind of kids who do receive this money (we've asked people online, made phone calls, ect.) and most of them have the same academic stats, if not worse, but they are not athletes. The kids who receive the money(and I'm talking scholarship money not financial aid) are the one's who are supposedly "active participants in their communities." These kids have the occasional community service, but also have summer internships and work jobs through the course of the year. The admissions counselors seem to be very impressed by their abilities to work 15-20 hours a week and still maintain great academics.
I would like to take this time to say that this is bullcrap. As a high school student, I know what influences kids and what doesn't. The kids who are working jobs, earning money, and doing community service are helping the community, but slightly. I'm not against community service, it's great, and I try to do as much as possible, but it's not always feasible to have loads and loads of it on an application. As a student, I barely even know the kids who are involved in these activities, and I know a lot of people. I don't really associate myself with a group of kids, I drift around and talk to everyone. The kids that have a major impact on the school and THEREFORE THE COMMUNITY are the varsity athletes. You may not like it, but it is true. My brother was a positive role model throughout high school, he never drank nor smoked, and still doesn't in college, and he influenced grammar school kids who tell me they want to be like my brother. THE ATHLETES ARE THE ONES WHO PUT 25-30 HOURS IN A WEEK, STILL MAINTAIN GREAT GRADES, AND IMPACT THEIR SCHOOLS, BUT THEY DON'T GET ANY MONEY!!! Seriously, my brothers and I all are dedicated athletes that put in 25-30 hours a week, but because we can't do as much community service due to our dedication, we won't get as much money.
Sorry, I needed to protest that injustice.
For the record, I know that most athletes are block headed fools, but I'm talking about the great student athletes that are deserving of money.
EDIT: Woops the title is supposed to read "College Admissions is a joke." The fact that I made it "are" is really embarassing and probably eliminates any chance of me being taken seriously.