Response to post #4...
It would be great if you had better sources than reading CC, a place that is mostly hearsay. I don't think your numbers are correct. (Edit: I know they are not correct, unless you can point me to something that says 33%/33%/33%)
1.) 200 athletes are recruited. This is under 8% of the admit pool, not 33%. Between 4 and 20 of them have numbers that would be questioned in a normal candidate (this is a good estimate, not a source).
2.) A little over 12% of all legacy (Mom or Dad) applicants are accepted. Very few applicants are accepted as legacies who wouldn't of been if they weren't legacies. Most legacy applicants have responsible and knowing parents who start college preparation (and high school) before the 9th grade - thus most of the 6% extra in the 12% is due to this.
After reading through more of your post, it seems like you have no notion of how admissions works on a detail level. It is NOT a lottery - far from it. Although it is always sad to move acceptances to the waitlist, the 'cutoff' one does not have many hard feelings. To put it in laymen terms, Harvard dearly wants 100-200 of it's applicants, really wants 800 of the applicants and wants (but would live without) around half or more of the class. This is what the "curve" looks like. Waitlist numbers are not released, but they range from 900 to 4,000. Bottom line: most of the class is made up of well rounded, sweet, smart students who can do the work and meet most of the officer's general criteria.
Your sons acceptance will be based almost exclusively on essays, short answer, recs and possibly interview at this point. I hope you're a little more hopeful, even though if you're not sure what they're looking for in these four things...and also that you feel good about the other schools too. Good luck to everyone