Talk to college coaches. If you want the most direct advice about college admissions, they will cut to the chase.
Most college marketers discuss “holistic” admissions. Their claims is easily disputed by matching test scores to college rankings. Yes, there are candidates who have lower scores than the averages at schools but most all have “hooks” (sports/VIPs, underrepresented minorities, diversity candidates in other ways, extraordinary stories etc.) So called “normal” kids from Guilford, Madison, Old Saybrook, Essex, East Lyme, Old Lyme, and other suburban CT locations need numbers to get them looked at by most all competitive schools.
At a recent Christmas Party, a father of a recruited athlete relayed what I have heard a dozen times: “the coaches told me that it is all about the scores” and his case, also his son’s running times.
Self-serving as it may seem, there is no doubt that grades and scores are by far the dominant ways that colleges grant admission and merit aid to most students from Shoreline, CT.