Is This True? NYT Articles Says, "For Accomplished Students, Reaching A Good College Isn't As Hard As It Seems"

I'm both confused and concerned by this article. Based on my experience, I don't believe that the same number of top students are getting into the elite colleges as in the past. How did they make this determination? Did they get the information about the entire pool of university applications or just the ones that go through (which I've never heard of before)? 

"Earlier this year, Harvard announced that it had accepted 5.9 percent of the nearly 35,000 students who applied for admission to the class of 2018. The next day, Stanford announced an even more exacting 5.07 percent admission rate, the lowest in the university’s history.
Statistics like these have come to dominate the national narrative of elite college admissions, with each new batch of ever-more-minuscule success rates fueling a collective sense that getting into a good college has become a brutal, “Hunger Games"-style tournament that only the fittest survive.
That story is wrong. For well-qualified students, getting into a good college isn’t difficult. It probably isn’t that much harder than it was generations ago. The fact that everyone believes otherwise shows how reliance on a single set of data — in this case, institutional admission rates — can create a false sense of what’s really going on."
Read the rest of the article here