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Articles / Applying to College / College Admission Tips for Division III Athletes

College Admission Tips for Division III Athletes

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Jan. 1, 2003

Question: My daughter is a JV cross-country runner at a school with a very strong varsity team. In fact, her times would make her a solid 4th to 6th place finisher on many Division III college teams. Should I insist that she write to the coaches at all the colleges on her list and tell them about her hopes to be admitted and join their squad? Should she mention her academic achievements, too?

Not surprisingly, the candidates whom Div. III coaches typically push for the most are those they expect to be top performers but perhaps borderline “admits.” In other words, they won’t waste their clout with admission offices pushing hard for a top student they know will be accepted for sure, nor will they waste that clout on more mediocre athletes.


Nonetheless, if your daughter is a good student who should fare well academically at her target colleges, it certainly makes sense for her to write each coach on her list and alert him or her to her application and qualifications. If she’s not a top prospect, the coach won’t fight hard for her but certainly may be willing to lend some support to her candidacy. In fact, there is nothing wrong with your daughter ending her messages by saying, “Even if I am not the strongest runner you have encountered this year, I am a good team member, and I believe I can be a helpful addition to your program. I hope you will be able to be an advocate for my admission at [name of college].”

She should certainly mention her times, but she shouldn’t emphasize that she was on a JV team. (She shouldn’t be dishonestâ€"she just doesn’t need to stress it either). Her JV times may indeed be as strong as varsity times from other high schools.

If your daughter is stalling on these letters, do tell her that they are a good idea and worth pursuing. If, however, it turns into a battle, don’t hesitate to contact the coaches yourself. (She ought to be willing to let you do that, even if she balks at the task.) The important thing is that these coaches are alerted that your daughter is an applicant, and it doesn’t matter at all where that information comes from.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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