Thanks intparent for the experienced based input. This type of discussion tends to have too much whining about reality and wanting a different scenario.

The world is different and you gave actionable advice to give your kid advantage in a highly competitive environment.

Having heared from parents going through the process this year, I heard good stories about fairly easy admissions to USC and Columbia, with good scores, not perfect and not big ECs. The USC stories seem to be generous about scholarships. But these are anecdotal. Good luck.