Great analysis... although...

I can easily see my own DD 'bothering' to apply (assuming we'll pay the fee) to a school she has little intention of attending in order to play a strategic game with the institutions she IS interested in. In her case, she just-- really-- isn't interested in an Ivy. She's thought about it, and just isn't. So in her case, those "reach" schools would NOT be places that she'd seriously want to go if she were admitted, and therefore it would be merely strategic for her. In that case, it wouldn't be cruel. Though I do agree about the time required to do the applying. (ay yi yi)

Of course, this also only works if your child isn't really interested in attending one of those top 50 or so institutions to start with, and it also means giving up on having him/her with similarly able peers (though even that is not necessarily told by the numbers... a kid that gets perfect scores on the SAT after ten tries, and has a 4.0 due to many grueling hours with a tutor isn't really "just like" my DD).

I know just enough about how admissions works and just enough about the current arms race to seriously question whether-- anymore, I mean-- the statistics on admitted students are actually reflecting that those are-- as they might well appear-- HG+ kids. Or are they hothoused bright and nearly-MG ones?

My gut says that it is increasingly the latter. I'm pretty sure that there is no college placement that will put my DD with only "true peers." Nature of the beast. We're hoping to put her with enough peers that she can find a few to connect with. smile

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