Okay, Cricket2, that sounds really awful. No wonder they're bordering on having nervous breakdowns.

I went to an elite women's college in Massachusetts. My high school experience sounds similar to yours, except I had really no clue about the national merit scholarship competition. Definitely not my thing anyway. My SAT scores were all 90th percentile+, but not perfect, either. Like you, I don't know if I'd get in today. Probably not.

As far as I'm concerned, this is all completely insane. We're beginning to embrace the idea of opting out in this house, that's for sure. The kids will be welcome to apply anywhere they like, but we'll have heard-to-heart talks with them about the state of affairs and why they should not be upset by rejection letters.