Originally Posted By: philly103
Speaking just for myself and my child - playing a musical instrument has moved down the list, playing the right sports has moved up - squash, lacrosse, water polo, crew, etc.


You may wish to focus on increasing your income instead, unless you're already able to afford $75,000 annually (I'm not asking --- I'm just reporting facts about preferences). The evidence shows that admissions are very heavily biased toward applicants from wealthy families.

See this excellent article in the NY Times. Quotes:

Quote:
The most selective colleges in America were the least socioeconomically diverse. ... At “Ivy plus” colleges ,... more than two-thirds of undergraduates, on average, came from families in the top income quintile, and fewer than 4 percent of students grew up in the bottom income quintile. At the very most selective colleges, low-income students were even more of an endangered species; at Yale, for example, Chetty found that just 2.1 percent of the student body came from the bottom fifth of the income distribution.


Quote:
If you work in admissions at a place like Trinity was before Pérez arrived, SAT scores can provide a convenient justification for admitting the kind of students you might feel compelled to accept because they can pay full tuition. It’s hard to feel good about choosing an academically undeserving rich kid over a striving and ambitious poor kid with better high school grades.



Quote:
“Few enrollment-management people will admit this publicly, but we’re all sort of in the same boat,” Boeckenstedt told me when I visited him in his office at DePaul in 2017. “Admissions for us is not a matter of turning down students we’d like to admit. It’s a matter of admitting students we’d like to turn down.”



AND

Quote:
In fact, Boeckenstedt’s chart shows an almost perfect correlation between institutional selectivity and students’ average family income, a steady, unwavering diagonal line slicing through the graph. With only a few exceptions, every American college follows the same pattern.

There is a popular and persistent image of college admissions in which diversity-obsessed universities are using affirmative action to deny spaces to academically talented affluent students while admitting low-income students with lower ability in their place. Boeckenstedt says the opposite is closer to the truth.