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Articles / Applying to College / Junior Varsity Letters & College Admissions

Junior Varsity Letters & College Admissions

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Aug. 22, 2008

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,

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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