Ben Orlin hits the nail on the head in his brief essay titled “Why I’ve Stopped Doing Interviews for Yale.” The whole admissions process for highly selective colleges has become an unpredictable mess, as many of my recent high-school students will tell you. It’s all pretty much random. At the end, Orlin approvingly quotes a proposal by psychologist Barry Schwartz that the most selective colleges should just be honest about this fact and should do admissions by lottery among all qualified applicants. That would at least be honest. Right now too many of my students think that they have somehow found the magic key for admissions (viola? crew? community service?), but actually there is no magic key.
And you’re not going to be a failure for life just because you didn’t get into Yale. Even in Weston.