One thing that seems to be a constant for me is that I am on a never-ending crusade to convince parents and grandparents that today's college admission process is nothing like their own. The first thing they realize when we begin to talk is that their notion of college admission timelines is different from what their high school senior is facing. You could knock them over with a feather when they find out that most of my students begin filling out applications in July and August BEFORE their senior year begins. Not only does college application season open earlier now, but some early application deadlines are October 1st!
The other huge difference for them is competitiveness for college entry today and for specific colleges they know (or attended). A typical conversation will begin with them indicating where they'd like to see their teen apply and what they think their teen's safety schools are. They are often shocked to find out the new admission metrics for colleges they thought would be sure things for their teen.
The takeaway for most is that today's college experience is not like theirs. Colleges are more different than ever in their requirements, processes and decision philosophies. Although there is the Common Application, the majority of colleges do not use it and even those that do have great differences in what they require.