I had a 2370 SAT, 5's in 6 APs, 2 scientific publications, and Bronze in a country-wide Math Olympiad. Why was I rejected from all the top schools in the US?
Join the club...
Did you actually apply to all of the top 25- or just specific ones?
Just like admissions - which makes decisions based both on "qualifications" and diversity of the incoming students - many aspects of "top schools" are somewhat arbitrary.
There are over 100 Tier 1 schools in the US
As a chemistry - math double major, I picked a "safety school" which I personally knew would get me into the graduate programs I wanted - meaning that the academics were top tier and I was doing undergraduate research by the time I graduated.
I went to my "safety school" - because I did not get admission to the "top schools" on my list.
While an undergraduate - I learned a key lesson - no one in science cares where you went as an undergraduate - but where you attend graduate school is incredibly important
This works for the vast majority of careers - as long as you attend a Tier 1 undergraduate school
I went to a top 5 graduate school in my field - and this absolutely made my career -
My ex brother in law attended a graduate program at Harvard - and he is now a multi-millionaire (after working in the Clinton White House) -
No one really cares about where we went as undergraduates
There are lots of people applying for very few slots - to have the priviledge of overpaying for opportunities in academics that exist elsewhere
But the top schools - by attracting certain people- are great places for networking and learning how to raise money - ask Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg
So this really depends on your reasons for applying to "top schools"
The branding does help to some degree - No one would question the quality of an engineer from MIT or Cal Tech - But I actually had the existence of hearing about the hiring process of enigeers from my undergraduate school:
"So she has a masters in Chemicak Enigeering from the University of Rochester- have you heard about this school?"
"Yes - they have a decent engineering program"
"Ok - you're hired."
University of Rochester optical engineering is considered the top program in the world - The vast majority of optical engineers at my technology employer - which makes optical equipment- are from either U of Rochester or U of Arizona - But I do not see either on a list of "top universities"
My son will attend Reed College - which had a 35% acceptance rate.
I know this school's programs to be among the hardest programs in the US - absolutely everyone who graduates will be accepted into a top 20 graduate school.
The difference? Marketing