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I'm a student at an HYPW school and have a lot of friends from my high school are at other supposedly "lower targets" (think UMich, UVA, Georgetown, UT Austin) and are getting the same (if not better) SA offers than many kids at my university with similar profiles (GPA, ECs, and prior experience).
Beyond my personal anecdotes, I see that my school isn't even on the WSO top ten list for IB placement and that some of these lower targets are seemingly placing much better. This is really frustrating to me since it seems like I could've worked WAY less hard in HS and attended one of these lower-tier schools (or go for almost free from merit scholarships) and then end up with the same result in terms of placement. I'm just confused why people on this forum encourage kids to go to HYPW type schools when it seems to make no difference in placement, probably costs more (since no merit aid), and is much harder to stand out even within the school due to high level of competition and volume of connected kids?