but isn't really going to get you very far in an admissions pool at Harvard,
Ok, but STEM people shouldn't want to go there. Or actually any of the Ivy leagues mentioned. If you want tech, the big recruited schools are MIT, UCIC, GA Tech, etc.
Except maybe this one, although it's questionable.
d perhaps one of the big problems qualified students from "poor" families have getting admitted to "elite" schools is that even if they are qualified, they don't actually apply
As a father planning for his children's education, many years hence. I go to these schools websites and look at their tuition. It is beyond all reason for all but the very wealthiest. My house doesn't cost that much. And I have two children. So yes, unless their academics are far beyond the pale and their SAT scores are maxed out, I'd discourage them from applying.
I'm aware that there's some sort of pirates code with those tuitions, but honestly it's just not worth it at half the price unless you really want to be in academia or research (or perhaps Law), and even then only in relatively trivial liberal arts fields.
as it sets a lower internal "baseline" for themselves to judge their future success
Hence we discourage our children from even considering these schools by labelling them as schools for rich kids whose daddy's can buy their way in. Which, in my personal experience of 3 people, describes 2 of them really well (in fact they were dumb as stumps but daddy paid for people to cheat for them). Of course this does reinforce the effect. The good news is eventually these schools fall out of grace, hence my comment at the top, most of the Ivy League schools are fully worthless except for fields in which reputation matters more than skill (hence STEM oriented people can successfully bypass this hurdle). I'm not sure I'd want my kids to attend any of those schools, they're highly impractical for working class people who will need ROI on their college investment.
Of course I would like my children to be able to get in to MIT, and it has the same hurdles with cost and has the same very, very low acceptance rate.