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Articles / Applying to College / Div. I Liberal Arts Schools for Late-Blooming Ice Hockey Nut?

Feb. 16, 2010

Div. I Liberal Arts Schools for Late-Blooming Ice Hockey Nut?

Question: My son is a high school junior who is finally realizing that it is important to get good grades. He also lives for hockey and wants to play at a Div. I school. His PSAT score was 1850. How do I find the best liberal arts school for my hockey nut/late- bloomer?

Many colleges have a fair amount of wiggle room when it comes to admitting recruited athletes, especially if their SAT scores are decent (and it sounds like your son's will be, given his PSAT results).


However, there is a quantum leap between being a high school stand-out in a sport and being good enough to catch a coach's eye, especially at the Div. 1 level.

Thus, the first thing that your "hockey nut" should do ... if he hasn't done so already ... is to ask his current coach if he is indeed a Div. 1-caliber player, and--if so--which Div. 1 colleges will be within his reach athletically. (In most sports, there is usually a pretty big range that separates the most competitive programs from those that are somewhat less so, even within Div. 1). The coach may also be able to recommend some specific colleges for your son to consider.

If there are former members of your son's team or hockey league who are currently playing in Div.1, how would your son compare his talents to theirs? Do any attend colleges that interest him and that he might want to visit and check out further?

A couple other places to start your search are:

1. The College Board's "Matchmaker" questionnaire. See http://collegesearch.collegeboard.com/search/adv_typeofschool.jsp

Your son can select all of his preferences (size, location, majors, etc.) and then, under the "Sports & Activities" heading, he should highlight "Men's Ice Hockey" and then click on "Advanced Search: search by sport levels" to select Div. 1. He should also enter his academic information where's he's asked to do so, but do keep in mind that if a coach is really hot for him, there will be some leeway when it comes to grades & test scores, which means he could possibly get into a college that ordinarily takes only candidates with better GPA's, ranks, and tests. In particular, if your son's freshman and sophomore grades weren't so hot, but he's buckling down now, admission folks can be fairly forgiving when a coach is breathing down their necks and the applicant has what's known as a "rising record."

If the "Results" that your son gets from the search aren't broad enough, he can try the questionnaire again, broadening some of his preferences.

2. The NCAA's "Sport by Division" list. See http://web1.ncaa.org/onlineDir/exec/sponsorship Select "Men's Ice Hockey" from the pull-down menu and then Div. 1. This will generate a list of all Div. 1 programs and may thus call your son's attention (and yours) to schools he wants to research further.

Note that even at the Div. 1 level there are, not surprisingly, some huge institutions (e.g., Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State) but also some rather small ones (e.g., St. Lawrence University, Colorado College, College of the Holy Cross) so, if you see your son in a small-school/liberal arts environment but he's still set on a Div. 1 program, they're not mutually exclusive.

Your son's guidance counselor may be able to suggest specific colleges as well, and you should also take advantage of the wisdom of other parents who have traveled this road (or rink?) before you by reading the posts--and posting your own questions--on College Confidential's athletics discussion forum and parents forum.

Once your son has compiled a list of colleges that interest him, he should visit their Web sites and look for "Recruit Me" forms (called by various names) on the athletic Web pages. He can also dig out the coach's e-mail address and contact him directly. In this initial contact, your son should include his hockey experience (and accolades) as well as his GPA, class rank (if he has one), and PSAT scores (or SAT's, when he gets them). Later on, it would be helpful to make a DVD that shows off your son's skills (some game clips and some practice clips). The DVD should be clear but it need not be snazzy (no music, titles, etc. required).

Good luck to you as you enter this maze! I hope you skate through it. ;-)

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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