The word optional is appearing more and more in relation to college admission applications. Although there are colleges that are test optional, test optional often comes with strings like a mandatory gpa level. Although there are essay optional colleges, I don't think it is a good idea to give up the chance to tell a college why they should accept your application and give you money.
Colleges have stopped short of going application optional. There is something called an alternate or special application that is shorter and often requires no application fee. Such applications are offered to targeted students; students the college is trying to recruit because of grades or other characteristics.
What parents can count on is that college admissions processes and methods are changing rapidly to move with millenials into the future of higher education.