Originally Posted by 22B
I'm trying to understand how and why "elite" colleges (not necessarily just Ivies) select students to admit using not just academics, but also "Extra-Curriculars" (ECs).
MIT has admitted an Indian unschooler because of her computer programming prowess:

Meet the 17-year-old ‘dropout’ headed to MIT
By Christine Burroni
New York Post
August 31, 2016
This 17-year-old didn’t need to take an SAT to get into college — or even a high school diploma.

Malvika Raj Joshi of Mumbai, who long ago abandoned formal schooling, landed a scholarship to Massachusetts Institute of Technology after her outstanding performance at an annual computer programming competition, according to First Post.

Joshi medaled her way to MIT after receiving two silver and one bronze in the International Olympiad of Informatics, which caught the eye of the Boston university — despite not being enrolled in a high school.

The decision to leave the traditional education system was made by her mother, Supriya, who believed her daughter’s so-called merit was more significant than her grades.

“Malvika was doing well in school, but somehow I felt that my children need to be happy. Happiness is more important than conventional knowledge,” Supriya said.
American students can get noticed by excelling in the USA Computing Olympiad (USACO).