I agree personally. I have no doubt that it is very competitive to get in to the top schools and that there are so many highly qualified candidates applying that having a "tier 1" or "tier 2" activity may be necessary to get accepted there. I assume that is the kind of school that the poster's daughter is applying to and so this may be true for that poster. I totally understand the reality of how difficult it is to get into those type schools.I dunno. I think the fact that most of the articles that come up regarding extracurricular "tiers" are on college admissions advising sites suggests this may partly be yet another way to freak parents out about their kids coming up short for college admissions.
While it may be a new idea to explicitly quantify or label a kid's involvement or achievement in whatever non-academic activities they're involved in, it's always been intuitively understood that longer term commitments to activities and rising up the ranks within those activities is smiled upon by colleges. And that makes sense. Graduating college requires commitment, focus and the ability to ride out challenge.
By the way these sites are phrasing things, you'd think unless your fifteen year old won a Nobel Prize in medicine while training for the '24 Olympics and performing as a soloist with the New York Philharmonic, they just aren't going to be admitted to college. It's a little histrionic, if you ask me.
What I read in some of those articles that actually made a lot of sense was having juxtapositional interests, like staying engaged with both sports and music, or the arts and leadership. Things that show both breadth and depth.
But I don't think it is the case for the majority of colleges out there. I have 2 kids in college right now and that was definitely not their experience. But I guess everyone's experiences and goals are unique. I'm just not into putting that much pressure on my children and am more focused on their happiness. The two in college were well rounded, did well academically and were involved in activities that interested them and that they enjoyed in high school. So it all worked out great for them, even without any tier 1/2 accomplishments.
OP, I'm glad that your daughter is staying on her team. If she is happy and you are able to keep paying for and supporting her, then I think it's the right decision. Good luck to her next season (and sorry about this side tangent).