Junior Varsity Letters & College Admissions

Question: My son’s school has junior varsity soccer but doesn’t give out JV letters, only varsity. If my son never makes the varsity team, will not having a JV letter hurt his college applications? Do colleges ask about JV letters?

The good news is that the lack of JV letters won’t hurt your son’s applications. But the bad news is that colleges don’t really care about JV participation at all. Sure, if he lists his team membership on his applications or résumé, it will be recognized as time well spent (whether he has an official “letter” or not) … but that’s about it. In fact, colleges are not particularly interested in any pursuits from 9th grade unless they’re truly outstanding or atypical. You surely know how hard your son worked to make the JV team as a freshman. At some high schools, this is the norm but, at many, the 9th graders get relegated to a freshman team or are cut from the squad entirely. You also know the hours of time devoted to practice, travel, and games (probably your hours, too!). But colleges appreciate little of this, especially the more selective ones.

So, for better or worse, whether or not your son was awarded a letter for his JV efforts makes no difference to colleges. You also might want to read this previous “Ask The Dean” column (“College Admissions for Non-Athletes“) for a somewhat sobering look at the way admission committees view high school athletes who may be spirited but aren’t hot recruits,