I like to share my experience as my son is going through the college application process. This has become one of the most daunting tasks for young people today.
I came across a message from the Office of Admission at Stanford University. It was beautifully written. In the message, it asks students to reflect on their personal goals and values and not to package themselves as what they think Stanford wants.
I believe the same thinking goes for parents too. We need to reflect on how to support our children's goals, to develop their characters and not to be distracted by how we can help them get into the best colleges.
The whole message can be seen here http://admission.stanford.edu/applying/