My DD's transcripts DO look like what Cricket describes (her GPA is a weighted 4.4, unweighted it's 3.96) and she has hard-core leadership experience in 4 different EC's, has 3 other EC's, and has hundreds of hours of community service to her credit. Her test scores are well over 90th percentile-- and one subscore at 99th. One shot, and no subject tests, no AP scores. She should graduate in the top 3 in her class.

This sounds like a lot-- and it is, in terms of scheduling everything-- but DD still has plenty of free time. This is because she simply doesn't have to work that hard to do most of it; it DOESN'T take her four hours to do her homework at night-- only 30 minutes.

We've not really pushed her to do all of those things she's got on her resume, but we definitely see some peers who DO get that kind of pressure. As I've noted before, these are parents who are pushing MG or bright NT kids to look as though they are PG. The genuine article doesn't require so much effort to look like that, YK?

My child is probably NOT a good bet for a top-10 or even top-20 admission. She's merely 'competitive' there, and she doesn't have anything particularly flashy about her other than her age. She hasn't placed with INTEL, done an international academic Olympiad, or won the National Spelling Bee.

Yes, I do think this is insane.

intparent-- I'm merely going by what I've heard in some detail from parents we've known pretty well. The upshot is that the gap between the school which has admitted the student and the one offering additional aid has to be REALLY significant. Significant enough that they want your kid there to improve their department/stats. In other words, most parents of kids here probably wouldn't use this strategy because they wouldn't want their kids headed to a regional public uni or anything.

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