Article by Yunfei Cheng
College admission is a very grueling process for many, but it is undoubtedly one of the most important steps to complete as high school students conclude their years of hard work. Because it is something everyone has to go through, I would like to give some advice, especially for student athletes aiming to continue playing their respective sport in college.
Firstly, it is extremely important that you set a strategy and focus on it for your application. After all, a college application is an occasion where you present yourself to the university, persuading them that you are a student who is worth admitting. In this sense, grades matter, but it is also essential that you exhibit a certain talent that differentiates yourself from the rest of the applicants. From personal experience, it is good to focus on one of your talents whether it is soccer, debate, or community service. Doing this shows you have been devoted to one particular area of interest and can sustain an effort to end. An example of students with a strategy is the set of quadruplets who were accepted in to both Harvard and Yale this year; they presented themselves as a “set,” like they were a package deal, and they were successful (Callas). The strategy can be anything as long as it surprises the admissions officer and leaves them with a strong impression of you. My strategy was highlighting how fencing helped me connect with people from around the world. To follow my strategy, I centered my main college application essay around an experience in fencing that had a profound impact on me. In this way, the admissions officers knew I wanted to highlight fencing.
Even though it is good to focus on one aspect of who you are, you can mention other activities in other parts of the application such as the short essays. If you choose to do this, make sure they are brief and do not conflict with the main interest which you want to present.
If you are looking to apply as a student athlete though, preparation takes a lot more than just writing the college essays. However, the benefit of student athlete is that you don’t necessarily have to have a strong essay if the coach really wants you. The first step as a student athlete, before writing college essays, is writing many emails to a number of coaches. You should send emails as soon as possible and as frequently as possible, even if you are a freshman in high school, to familiarize yourself with the coaches. This way, they can see you improve over the years, as “improvement rate” is a crucial factor that collegiate coaches want to see before they take you. Do note that National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) forbids college coaches from direct face-to-face interaction with high school students until they are in their junior year, but encourages email interactions from freshman year (Frank).
The next step is visiting the college. You might have to go multiple times, and it is good if at least once you can go through a trial training session with current members on the team. What you should look out for are things that did not get answered through questions alone, such as the atmosphere of the school or the taste of food in that region. Once you go see these facilities in person however, you will likely realize that they are all wonderful environments to study and play sports in. It ultimately comes down to determining which school/team/coach you think you would enjoy being with for the next four years.
After considering all factors, it is ideal if you are the one choosing the college instead of the college choosing whether or not to pick you. This is the greatest advantage of making connections prior to the application itself. In fact, the application doesn’t have to be stellar for the college to take you, if your new coach and now advocate will have already recommended you to the admissions officers. From this point on you are mostly reiterating your commitment to a particular sport, and that you desire to continue your practice in college.
Communication, CHS. “School Before Sports.” Central High School News. N.p., n.d. Web. 11
Callas, Jennifer. “Harvard and Yale: Quadruplets Accepted to Ivy League Schools.”
Time U.S. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.
Frank, David. “NCAA Rules: Contacting College Coaches.” Athnet. N.p., n.d. Web. 8