I have much less knowledge and experience about this type of thing than the high schoolers, but I figure I'll throw in my two cents. If I were looking for an engineering major, then I would have a tough time turning down a free offer to attend one of the nation's top engineering institutions, regardless of my age. But I would actually be less likely to accept this if I was a sophomore. I mean what if you completely change your mind about what you want to do? If I was a junior, I'd have to figure out soon what I wanted to do and might just accept based on the fact that it's a pretty good university. And when you're a senior, obviously you're in big trouble if you don't know where you want to go to school by late May. Obviously everyone's unique economic situation will play a factor, as parents are less likely to say "We'll pay for wherever your talents take you" than "We'll pay for wherever your talents take you to a state school" in the recession.
Strath Haven MS:
2008: Regionals-3, States-5
2009: Regionals-2, States-4
2010: Regionals-1, States-2, Nationals-19
2011 (Co-captain): Regionals-1, States-1, Nationals-11
Nationals: Aquifers-37, Compute This-13, Dynamic Planet-25, Ecology-6, Experimental Design-7, Junkyard-33
Moving to C...