For right now, the key lesson is this: colleges (the most coveted ones, anyway) are picky. That means they have a choice. And given a choice, they always do the same thing: they pick the best in the world. It's quite a Dip, one that most students ought to reject in my opinion. Instead, egged on by guidance counselors with a vested interest and parents who mean well but don't see the problem, they throw themselves into the system, almost certain to get stuck in the Dip instead of playing a different game altogether.
The opportunity for 95% of the student body is this: reject the idea of being almost good enough to get in to Harvard and embrace the idea of being extraordinarily good at something else.
I wish I could bottle that up and send it to every high school junior.