Listen to the math

If you ask a qualified college counselor if you have a good chance of admission at one of those highly-selective colleges US News loves to place atop their rankings list, here's the correct answer:

No.  You have a terrible chance of admission.  And any private counselor who tells you that he or she can dramatically improve your chances isn't telling you the truth.  

I'm not saying you shouldn't even consider applying, or that you should abandon all your hard work.  But the math doesn't lie.  Highly-selective colleges admit fewer than 20 out of every 100 applicants.  The most selective of those schools admit fewer than 10 out of every 100.  It doesn't take a future math major to correctly call those bad odds.

If you're willing to accept the math, it can actually take some pressure off.

It's not reasonable to limit your list to the most selective schools. It's not reasonable to believe that the only way for your hard work to pay off is to get a Yes from Yale or Harvard or Georgetown . It's not reasonable to assume that only the tiny percentage of the applicant pool who attends one of those colleges will ultimately be happy and successful.  

Once you let the math disprove those strategies, your college admissions process starts to change for the better.

You'll find schools that fit you instead of just those you like because of the name.  You'll refuse to spend more time than is reasonable or sane prepping for the SAT in the hopes that you'll eke out another 50 points.  You'll start to find some of the excitement and joy that is just waiting to be found in this process once you look at just how many schools are waiting to accept you with open arms. 

I have no problem with you applying to a couple highly-selective colleges that you believe are places that fit you, where you could be happy and successful.  We have Collegewise students every year who attend some of those schools.  Take your best shot at your dream school; you've earned that. 

But don't ignore the math; listen to it.  It will point you towards the best strategies.