Of course, the reality at the vast majority of selective colleges is that grades and/or rank, and SAT/ACT scores are the primary or only means of comparing applicants, with other applicant criteria (ECs, essays, etc.) affecting only those at the margins, if considered at all. The arguments here about subjective holistic review and the magnification of criteria other than basic academic stats at the most selective colleges are not really relevant to colleges in general.
Probably the biggest factor that is underestimated by college applicants and the general public is bucketing by major, which colleges use to keep enrollment within department capacity. Unfortunately, colleges tend not to be transparent about that. A few which are more transparent than most about that are San Jose State University ( http://www.sjsu.edu/admissions/impaction/impactionresultsfreshmen/index.html and http://www.sjsu.edu/admissions/impaction/impactionresultstransfer/index.html ), and the UC system with respect to transfer applicants ( https://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/infocenter/transfers-major ), although many may not realize that such information is available when it is. But that means that, for example, that Asian students rejected from SJSU computer science may mistakenly believe that race was the reason for that while their white/black/Latino classmates were admitted to SJSU (but in majors like English, history, math, physics, sociology, materials engineering).