Overall, I think that American college admission system is almost as broken as US Healthcare. It starts with an idea that everyone should go to college despite the fact that only about third of US high school graduates are ready for college. The college costs continue to rise burdening students and their families. Many students get college loans and then don't graduate (graduation rate is under 60% for undergraduate students). And on the achieving end, kids are stressed out and abused by long hours of homework and incessant running from one activity to another to "beef up" their college applications.
Smarty still naively believes that getting good grades and being good at test taking will be enough to get her into a "good school". What we are trying to tell her that what she really needs is to develop a passion for what she wants to do. Both my husband and I believe that having a purpose and pursuing it trumps killing yourself for grades and chasing elite admissions. Also, being "upper middle class" family, we cannot expect an elite school offering Smarty a nice chunk of money to come to them. There are also other considerations - Smarty will graduate at 16, and we are not entirely sure that she will be ready to live on her own. Right now her "dream college" is still Stanford, mostly because it is so close to home, and she is also interested in UC system. When these conversations come up, I gently remind her that she still has at least three years to grow and change before she needs to seriously decide which colleges to apply tp, and right now she should just enjoy learning and trying new things. And she does - she is taking a 6-week engineering elective right now, and she told me in one of our rambling conversations that we have on our walks that she wants to take Physics in high school, after all - not because she wants to become an engineer, but because she sees more clearly now how biological and chemistry concepts "actually have a real shape in a real world". This is very reassuring to me, and I hope that Smarty will continue to grow, learn, and find her own place in the world, rigged games or not.
What do you think of US college admissions process?