Good points, Bostonian and madeinUK. That is exactly how my DD felt when reading down that list from MIT. She started to kind of glow.

As if she were thinking-- Wow-- I'm--I'm a SWAN!!

The problem we've had in looking at elite schools is that we kind of HAVE to do our level best to avoid TigerKids, because she's like MoN's DD in terms of her prosocial leanings, and she is viscerally intolerant of pretentious, elitist snobbery. Ergo, many of the places which would otherwise be suitable in terms of test scores and GPA aren't because of the elitist factors. Besides, nothing draws TigerKids like snobbery and a brand name.... :sigh:

I know that I recommended this early on in this thread, but-- truly-- check out the "how do I stack up" tab at College Board's college search engine for those stats, because they are REALLY eye-opening. I truly had no idea just HOW low they were for our state flagship... and for those of neighboring states, for that matter. Literally the SOLE institution within 500 miles of us where my DD looks "only slightly above average" is Reed, which isn't suitable for her in particular for a variety of reasons.

When you get into that tier of institutions (those that draw higher in terms of performance of matriculants) you have to tease apart what role hyper-prepping plays in that average. This is particularly important in the schools that have universal "Ooooooooo" Name Recognition.

Finding safety schools is NO problem for HG+ kids who perform at high levels. Finding "matches" academically isn't hard either-- it's just hard making them stand OUT enough from the horde who justify almost any means... and understanding that unlike most kids, there are no "match" schools where admission is a slam dunk-- because of the nature of those schools.

Where we've had some trouble is identifying "reach" schools-- for an academic rock star, what does that even mean? Is it Oxford? DD asked me, and I seriously didn't know how to answer her. Because in pragmatic terms, she's theoretically the kind of student places like U-Chi, Oxford, King's-London, Harvard, Princeton, Cornell, MIT, Claremont(s), etc. are seeking... but because of the Tiger component to admissions at any and all of those institutions... in a pragmatic sense, all of them are "reach" schools, so don't fall in love because any one of them could (and probably will) turn you down, even if you're Stephen Hawking or a future Nobel winner.

On the other hand, my DD is willing to WORK to make her odds better for a place like MIT. Which is a first-- SHE wants it. She wants to do what it takes to let them see who and what she is.

I just hope that she has enough time.

Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.