I would like to point out that this is her reality, and these parents are exactly the sort who hire consultants. Wealthy and obsessed with Ivies. However, this does not tell us much about the likely majority of the kids whose parents are not hiring consultants to ensure that they are accepted to “elite” colleges.
I also think that Ms Meltzer has really very little understanding of how raising a child, especially a teen, actually works.
Hands up all parents here that actually think that they can “mold” their high school aged kids in any real way.
Parents have a difficult time “molding” their kids in any way, except very generally. When these kids are in high school, all bets are off.
The kids are required to do a LOT of work, and a 14/15/16 year old is not going to do that work at the required level, unless they actually want to do it. They are not 6 years old and will happily do something because it makes their parents happy. At that age, kids are pretty selfish and self-absorbed.
The only way in which these parents can actually “mold” their kids is to make the kids focused on Not Disappointing Their Parents at a much younger age.
Meltzer also seems to assume that the kids have no will and interest of their own. There are plenty of kids are themselves obsessed with attending a “super-elite” college, and their equally obsessed parents are participating in the activity. These kids are much more likely to develop that obsession because that is what the rest of their social group is obsessed with.
In neither case is the parent actually “molding” the kid into an Ideal Applicant. What they are molding is the application packet. They are creating the right parts in which to fill the application. It is not even a persona, but an image that they then submit to the college.
I think that the majority who apply to “super-elite” colleges are simply highly competitive, and are trying to “win” at high school. For them, “winning” is being accepted to a “super-elite” college. It is really not that different than the athletes, for whom “winning” is often “being recruited by a college which is famous for its athletics”.
The difference between these and the students who Meltzer sees is that the other ones don’t have parents who are A, equally obsessed, B, have the wealth to indulge their and their kid’s obsession, and C, don’t have a simpler way to gain admission (legacy, donor, athlete, etc)