I share your trepidation about playing a game where the rules keep changing. My guess is that elite colleges will always have more applicants than they can serve, but the colleges just below that level will compete to attract strong students. Those are the ones that are more likely to offer merit-based aid.
Yet the question remains: how they will judge the strength of applicants when there aren't "easy" (albeit flawed!) tools like standardized testing? Will teacher letters of recommendation become more critical as they can compare specific students to past students they've taught? How does that affect homeschooled kids?
This was a very thought-provoking essay. Thanks for sharing, Sara!