Are you saying that, if these old people who can't subsist on their "rather meager" pension don't graduate, we ought to seize their belongings to pay back the Pell grants they received?
They're doing what they can and are learning - they're doing the work, earning the credits. If they got screwed by an employer that lost their pension or if they receive so little a month that they can't pay for rent&food after working for 45 years, it's on us, because we're the richest country in the world and have people who worked their whole lives yet don't have pensions to live on. One criterion for evaluating progress in the 20th century was that working class people no longer had to work till they die. It's always shocking to me to see 75 year olds working as greeters. I feel so, so terrible for them. I know, some would say they do it for fun, but, really? They do it because their monthly pension is $462 a month, their kids cannot help, and they would die otherwise.
The point of taxes is that we're a nation and, as such, we're responsible for each other. We, as Americans, belong to a common society, and therefore contribute in the measure of our capabilities, considering that the higher we got, the more we ought to be grateful that our work ethic met the good fortune of being born in this country, part of this nation. Charity is optional, taxes are mandatory, because belonging to a country and being part of society is mandatory. Do I WANT to pay high taxes? No. But for all I gripe about taxes, I wouldn't mind paying higher taxes, because I'm grateful for what they do. A 7 or 10 braket tax system, with higher brackets for people in the 500K range, 1 million range... would make sense to me. The fewer the brackets, the more the middle class ends up shouldering in relation to what would be the "top brackets". I don't agree with how all taxes are used, but I know they're necessary to "make a society" and keep us going. I am also aware that very rich people practice "wealth optimization" that means they already get all kinds of tax breaks. First order of business in a just society would be to look at the tax optimization tactics, and close the loopholes - look at those who have the most before those who have less. (For example, it seems to me that if you have enough money to operate your own private plane, you don't need a tax cut for its maintenance, whereas Pell grants recipients can't go to college without the grants. BTW when they were created, Pell grants covered tuition, room, and board at public universities.)
You need to consider the size of the pond and whether you're top 35% or top 1% by far. An academic mismatch and an inability to find peers makes things complicated since transfers get less aid than freshmen.
This isn't the case at your flagship's honors college, but otherwise look carefully.
There's also a matter of resources and networks: you won't have the same access to both even if you're a top student at a poorly funded directional v.a non stellar student at a top 40 university.
In addition, consider whether your true choice is being top 10 at a lower ranked college or bottom 10 at a higher ranked one.
Being a big fish allows you to pick and choose your intensity. (This is especially good if you're premed or in an already high intensity field.) Being a little fish forces you to be 100%, 100% of the time. (This is especially good if you were frustrated by lack of intellectual curiosity and rigor at your high school.) What do you prefer?
Really, it's best you look at value and pick the best pick for you. For that, try to learn to know yourself (granted, it's hard for any person, even more so for teens).
I agree, absolutely include it, and present what you do (look up "active verbs to describe work"): opening the restaurant before school, talking to suppliers, welcoming clients, cleaning tables, waiting on clients, delivering customers' orders to the cooking staff, cooking w, x and z...
I think it would make sense to have a drinking age of 19 for beer, wine, and ciders.
I'm not sure it'd be enough to attract students to Wisconsin (costs matter to their parents regardless of how much kids want access to legal beer) but if beer/wine is available legally in bars, it may keep young people from unsupervised drinking in frats.
UMN Twin Cities, U Wisconsin, and St Olaf are three solid matches. (Qualified: depends on what major you're interested in at UMN.)
Look into Whitman, Occidental, UWashington Seattle; Kenyon, Skidmore, Colorado College, Denison, Dickinson, Connecticut College, Trinity College?
Definite merit and honors at UAlabama, Elon UVermont.