How important can athletics be as a hook for college admissions?

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Our counselors answered:

How important can athletics be as a hook for college admissions?

Kirk McNabb
Owner Headstart College Consulting

Athletics should always come after Academics when it comes to hooking in potential student athletes

Athletics should be in no way a hook for college admissions. The main focus for the college should be how it compares academically against other similiar institutions. Even though potential student athletes can help a schools awareness on their ability to play at a higher level athletically it should still be every student athletes #1 goal to obtain a college degree. A quality athletic program with excellent facilities will still help significantly with the overall decision making but it must always fall second to what the school offers academically.

Annie Reznik
Counselor/CEO College Guidance Coach

Athletics Can Be a Great Hook

Keep in mind that the notion of "hook" is borrowed from journalism where writers strive to hook the reader in with an attention getter. In that sense, athletics is a great attention getter. However, the first step in any college admission process is to determine that a student is capable of success. Highly selective colleges deny many students that demonstrate the potential for success, athletes included.

kathy hicks-freeman
Guidance Counselor Greensboro High School

Athletics and College Admissions

Athletics is a vital part of a collegiate program. Many 18 and 19 year olds, are attracted to universities for nonacademic reasons; sports being one. Young adults need to feel a sense of connection. Many times, sports is a way to develop this relationship; which in turn, provides students with a sense of belonging.

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

Athletics-They Can Make All the Difference

Athletics can be the ultimate hook, virtually guaranteeing admission if the athlete satisfies the NCAA’s initial eligibility requirements and the coach definitively wants the athlete. Yes, the ultimate decision is made by the admissions office, but most experienced coaches at Division I schools know how to get preliminary readings from their admissions offices prior to investing the time and energy needed to land a particular recruit. Quite simply, it is all a part of the process of creating a community and matching the needs of the university. At schools where the athletic stakes are not as high, athletes are far more typical of the student body at large, but ultimately as long as a school fields a team they will make sure they have students who will not only fill out the roster but make them competitive.

Trevor Creeden
Director of College and Career Counseling Delaware County Christian School

How important can athletics be as a hook for college admissions?

It all depends on how good you are and how much a coach wants you to play for them. You need to first get on a coach's radar by completing the "prospective student athlete questionare's" that are on each college's athletic website for the specific sport. If a coach really wants you to play for them and especially if you will be offered a scholarship, your application will most likely be "flagged" as an athlete and the admissions requirements do come down a bit. How much depends on the college but I have seen them come down a lot for Division I colleges and a good bit for Division II and Division III.

Ryan John
School Counselor Bethlehem High School

How important can athletics be as a hook for college admissions?

I think part of the answer to this rests with how interested the coach is in you. Has the coach shown a sustained interest in having you on the team (i.e. frequent communication, invites to campus and games etc)?. Also, how close the relationship is between the coaches and the admissions staff will certainly play a role in how important or 'potent' of a hook the athletic component will be. At some colleges/universities the relationship is a respected one and one that can possess influence and persuasion. At others schools the relationship can be toxic and not yield any influence. All of that said, I would caution ANY student-athlete when hearing a coach tell them that 'they will put in a good word for them' with the admissions staff. This can be a marketing ploy by the coach to demonstrate 'pull' within the ranks of admissions. The student and their families will often not know the extent of the relationship between these offices which often times is much less influential than a coach may lead on, or may even be non-existent all together.

Pamela Hampton-Garland
Owner Scholar Bound

Weight of athletics on college admissions

Colleges are money making engines who truly love to recruit great athletes and have been known to bait the best of the best with all types of tantalizing goods and promises, but remember that is the athletic department. Admissions is different, yes they want the best and brightest and will strive to capture the attention of those academically qualified candidates but their overall mission is to graduate students who become quality citizens in this world by making a sustainable contribution to society. Thus, although athletics looks great as an extra-curricular activity you must be academically qualified to squeak past admissions; and that vetting will take place before the coaches make any offers.

王文君 June Scortino
President IVY Counselors Network

it is another card for you to play

it is very important for seniors to seek contact and visit as early as possible to secure seats for being part of the team. when you have someone from the athletic department to recommend you to the admisisons office, your application will be serioulsy considered ahead of the rest applicants.

Judy Zodda
Founder and President Zodda College Services

The student - athlete- hook!

Student- athletes, if you are among the best, definitely have an advantage in college admissions. If you have a coach that is supporting your application and you are within the academic parameters of the college where you are considering playing, you have a good chance of getting admitted. But prior to getting to this last step of applying and getting admitted, there is a ton of work that you must do to get on the coaches radar and stay there, particularly in Division III. You have to be wiling to do the upfront work, and know there are still no guarantees as a prospective student - athlete that you will be admitted. What you are looking for is the right academic/athletic match!

Tom Chandler
Athletic Recruiting Adviser

The athletic hook

There is no better hook for being admitted to highly selective schools than to be a recruited athlete. College trustees at both private and public colleges and universities value the brand name recognition that successful athletic teams generate. That in turn leads more students to apply, thereby lowering the number they can accept which makes them more selective, allowing them to attract better students and faculty, and generate greater contributions from proud alumni. Even Division III colleges value successful athletic performance as they want students who excel in whatever their interests are. As a result, Admissions officers, who do not have the ability or time to determine which athletes are most likely to be contributors to their teams, delegate that responsibility to their coaches. Admissions has standards they apply to who will be admitted but for many schools in many sports, it is only the minimum standard applied by the NCAA, basically a sliding scale of GPA in 16 core courses and the SAT, ranging between a 2.0 and 1010 SAT for critical reading and math. But as the colleges become more selective and admit fewer of those that apply, there are more demands placed on the coaches to meet higher academic standards. But even in those cases, in order for highly selective school coaches to have enough talent to be able to compete effectively at their division, the standards must be lowered. In general, an athlete can be recruited at a level where the 25th percentile of the school's students fall in terms of SAT, for example. They are qualified to do the work but can't all be expected to perform at the level of their brightest students since they put so much time into trying to perfect their sport that they can't be held to the same standard as other applicants, especially if the school hopes to compete nationally. Private colleges value diversity and definitely support the applications of alumni children but not nearly as highly as they do recruited athletes. As one example, last year Dartmouth College, an Ivy League school, accepted only 9.7% of all those that applied. But included in that amount were some of the 222 athletes they invited on official visits last fall. Of those 222, 106 ended up applying. Of those 106 that applied, all 106 were admitted So even at the most prestigious and selective colleges, being a recruited athlete is the best hook.