Yes, it is brutal. I hate to admit it, but I think I see some truth there.

When I look at my two kids, though both are capable and smart, they differ tremendously in one key way. My DD, who (I hesitate to admit this) is currently at an ivy, is smart, but what distinguishes her is her drive. She is intense, in every way. Every opportunity that came her way she pounced upon, and attacked, and owned. (Granted, this may have more to do with coming from a public HS and community that didnít have tons of opportunities geared toward students like her). She absolutely loves her school and is attacking the opportunities in much the same way she did in high school. I donít mean that sheís competitive, just the opposite, actually. But she jumps at the chance to learn or expand her experiences.

My DS, however, is quite different. I suspect he is smarter, at least in the measurable sense (he just earned a perfect ACT score with zero prep), but he is a much less willing student, more choosy about how he spends his efforts, and more comfortable letting opportunities slide, if they donít push all his buttons. I suppose itís a classic underachiever profile, but he is very discriminating and internally motivated, though his focus is still nebulous. I know he could succeed at DDs school, but i donít know if he would take advantage of the opportunities in the same way- he is more willing to let things come to him, or fall in his lap, at least so far. Of course itís also possible he just hasnít matured to that point yet, it remains to be seen. But from my n of 2, DD certainly fits where she is, and my DS is still a bit of a mystery, despite his smarts. And I think the elite schools people are talking about on this thread want kids who have proven their drive to succeed already.

For what itís worth, I do think there are more than enough high scoring kids to go around- in my experience the average scores at elite schools are lowered significantly by athletes, if our high school is anything like the general population applying.