I sometimes hear parents say that their child must gain admission to a specific college. While it is good to have target colleges, no one can guarantee that any student wil be accepted at any specific college. When you add to this equation that the student may not have the general admission requirements for a specific school, the next suggestion from the parent is often that since they have given money to that college, the student will have an edge in admission decisions.
NEW FLASH-there is also no guarantee that writing a check to a college gives a student any sort of admission advantage.
It continues to amaze me that people think they can bargain, threaten to withold a donation or otherwise influence admission personel. One thing that is true about college admission offices is that they strive to admit students based on merit, the ability to succeed at that college, and the desirability of the student based on perparation for major or other special talents or attributes they want to include in the incoming class.
An issue parents and students often overlook is that the college may be desirable but may not be a good fit. Because roughtly half of students who start college do not graduate, this is a concern. Students can apply to reach colleges but also need to apply to colleges that are the best fit for them for success in their career. Choosing a college based on fit increases the chances a student will graduate.