In college admission process, tough choices

Jay Matthews:

I once interviewed Alyson Barker, a former student at Annandale High School in Fairfax County, about her attempt to use the college admission process to drive her relationship with her parents into a ditch.
Barker’s parents wanted her to attend the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, a fine state school with lower tuition for Virginia residents. Barker told them, with a 17-year-old’s irritating certitude, that instead she would attend a small, expensive private school in Ohio.
Because so many area families are starting their college searches, I am going to write a few columns on the hidden pitfalls of the process. I started last week warning against overlooking the quality of campus extracurricular activities. That was important but, I realize now, not the right place to begin.