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Articles / Applying to College / Do Colleges Care About My Out-of-School Sport?

Sept. 25, 2012

Do Colleges Care About My Out-of-School Sport?

Question: Do colleges care if you have a in-school sport or out-of-school sport? I have never been on any sports team in my school but I actually go to this park which is by my house where a team meets every day to practice. I am a speed skater and I have been doing this for almost 4 years now and I was wondering if the school cared that I practice my sport out of school.

When it comes to extracurricular endeavors, there are what I call “pluses” and “hooks” in the admission process. A “plus” is any undertaking that shows admission officials that you have used your time constructively, and a “hook” means that you offer something that the colleges really want and which will thus give you an edge at decision time.


An applicant gets a “hook” from a sport only when the target college has a team in that sport and when the coach is interested in having this applicant on the team. The Good News: It doesn’t matter if the sport is in school or outside of school. If a coach is hot for you, then you’ve got a “hook.” The Bad News: Your sport is one that you probably won’t find at your target colleges, so you won’t get a “hook” from it.

BUT (more good news coming … ) speed skating is an unusual extracurricular activity. Admission folks are always on the lookout for applicants who are different, who take part in activities other than the predictable ones that they see all the time (e.g., yearbook, Key Club, Model UN, student government, band …) Your speed skating will definitely help you stand out in a crowd.

So even if you don’t get a full-blown hook from this passion, you should definitely highlight it on your applications because it could be a very big plus.

(posted 9/25/2012)

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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