I, too, am a graduate of Berkeley, but I do think that the game has changed somewhat since I applied many years ago. Back then, I got mostly As with a few Bs in high school, worked at the mall at a nut and candy store, babysat, didn't volunteer much at all, didn't attend academic summer programs or do internships, had very good but not perfect SAT scores, only took the SAT once with no prep beforehand, was a NMSF as were a number of my classmates, but no one communicated with me the steps toward becoming a NMF so I never applied, and generally was a good kid. I don't think that with that record I'd get into Berkeley today.

The kids I see bordering on nervous breakdowns are the ones who are trying to do everything and at a level beyond what they would naturally be driven to do without the worry and pressure that it is necessary to succeed in life. A full 10% of my dd14's class (they are going to be juniors) have GPAs above a 4.0 meaning that they've never gotten a B and they've also taken the only one or two AP classes that have been available thus far at their grade level. Really, it would only be one AP that was available by your sophomore year unless you were accelerated enough in math to have finished pre calc by freshman year. Many of these kiddos also sign up for zero hour classes, meaning that they start school at 6:15 a.m. rather than 7:30; they are enrolled in numerous extracurriculars, members of many clubs, work, volunteer,etc.

I don't know that it should all be about that degree of sheer quantity.