There is one other comment I want to make about the admissions process.
I tried to let my kid be a kid.
I never encouraged him to join any clubs and sports with resume-building in mind. Anything he did, he chose to do of his own volition, and he did it because it was interesting to him. I figured he was working hard in school, and his extracurriculars should be fun and a release from pressure, as opposed to more pressure.
And guess what? He was admitted to Williams without having invented a cure for a major disease, without spending a fortune to fly somewhere exotic to do service work, without having won any major competitions, without having a title of President of anything. This does not imply that his activities were not meaningful. They were. He cared about them, and I am proud of his accomplishments. He developed good leadership and social abilities, kept in good physical shape, felt the thrill of accomplishment and the joy of being part of various types of teams/group experiences. But his activities weren’t “unusual” and they didn’t need to be. He was a happy kid doing things he enjoyed. And if he had “only” gotten into his safeties, I still would be glad that he did what he enjoyed during high school.
One of his essays was based on something that happened during his summer camp job, and his mini-descriptions in his activities sections demonstrated his interests, dedication, and character.
Also, he did not take a test prep course, nor have a test prep tutor, nor spend hours prepping. He did some practice tests and exercises on the free online Khan Academy, and that was the extent of his preparation. And he took the SAT only once, in December of junior year. I think he scored “in the mid-50 percent range” for every college to which he was applying, but not in the top 25% for the most selective colleges on his list. I was a little nervous that maybe a kid from suburban New York with educated parents would need higher scores for the most competitive schools, and that maybe I should have pushed him to retake them. But he was satisfied with and proud of his scores and wanted to be finished with testing. And his GPA and course rigor were sky high. I figured that investing more time into his schoolwork and extracurriculars— and getting to be a high school kid and have fun with his friends— probably would yield a better result than devoting his time to a ton of test prep anyway. I am glad to say it worked out.