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Articles / Admissions / Will Quitting Wrestling Hurt Elite College Chances?

May 27, 2020

Will Quitting Wrestling Hurt Elite College Chances?

Question: I'm about to start my junior year, and after three years of wrestling, I may have had enough. I've already been injured twice and I don't like my coach. I admit I'm pretty good but will probably never be a conference champion or state finalist. Should I give up wrestling now and pursue other interests---perhaps even a new sport? Or will it help my applications to elite college if I stick it out?

You're "wrestling" with a tough choice, and the answer will be hard to "pin" down. (Okay, no more puns ... I swear)


Wrestling will only have an impact on your admission outcomes if you are an outstanding performer. Simply being good--or having participated throughout high school--will be viewed by elite admission officials as a worthwhile use of your time, but it probably won't be that boost you're hoping for that will shunt your application right into the "In" pile.

However, you don't say if the "elite" colleges on your list are NCAA Division I schools or others. You'd have to be a superior wrestler indeed to draw the attention of the Div. I coaches and to thus parlay your wrestling talents into affirmative admission decisions.

I wouldn't say that any Div. II colleges that offer wrestling would fall into the "elite college" category, and only a handful of Div. III schools (e.g., Williams, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Washington and Lee) would earn that designation from me. But if any of those are on your list, then it's conceivable that as a strong--but not state-level--wrestler, you might get some extra consideration at admission-decision time. This could depend on the college's situation in a given year ...e.g., how many returning wrestlers are on the squad and what weight classes are not represented.

Still, if you've lost your enthusiasm for the sport or are worried about further injuries, then it's probably time to move on to other pursuits. Perhaps there is a part of you that feels guilty for quitting or maybe there are parental pressures to stick it out. So, as I said above, the answer isn't an easy one. But, from a college admissions perspective, it doesn't sound as if wrestling will be your ticket to acceptances, and your lack of passion for it will probably be obvious as you proceed with the admissions process. So I suggest that you search for something else you love. Meanwhile, keep active, stay in shape, and if you really miss wrestling, you can give it another shot as a senior. And in some communities there are wrestling clubs that aren't associated with particular high schools. If you don't like your coach but want to keep involved with the sport, there may be similar opportunities in your area, too.

Written by

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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