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Articles / Applying to College / When a Coach Says "No Thanks" Will Admissions Say "No Way"?

June 25, 2016

When a Coach Says "No Thanks" Will Admissions Say "No Way"?

Question: If you hope to make a school team but the coach is not interested will that hurt you in general admissions? Will they think you are not as interested in the school without the possibility of playing the sport?

When a student/athlete is interested in playing a sport at a particular college, and the coach is also interested in the student, this will usually give the student a big boost … or “hook," as it's often called … in the admission process.

If the coach is NOT interested, then obviously the student will lose the athletic hook which could diminish admission chances, but it doesn't mean that the student isn't likely to be admitted. Granted, at the most selective small colleges, the admission folks are keen to accept applicants who can do “double duty." In other words, they favor candidates who are not only strong in the classroom but who can also contribute to the athletic program. The student body simply isn't big enough to accommodate all the interested non-athletes as well as enough athletes to staff every team. So at this short and hyper-competitive roster of institutions, lack of interest from a coach isn't an automatic deal-breaker but it is certainly more detrimental than it is at most other colleges.

More typically, if a student/athlete likes a college but realizes that making the college team probably isn't in the cards, the student may still be a front-runner candidate if grades and test scores are up to snuff. But, in such cases, “The Dean" recommends that the student use the “Additional Information" section of an application or write a separate letter to say something like this:

Although my résumé, recommendations (and reputation) scream, “Soccer!" there's a lot more to me than sports. I don't think I'll make the soccer team at [College's Name] but I still love this school and will eagerly enroll, even if the coach isn't interested in me. Beyond the soccer field, I especially value [provide several pluses of this college]. I know I will be happy playing intramural soccer and I also hope to discover other activities that excite me that I haven't previously had time to pursue because of all of the many hours I've devoted to soccer.

When the student takes the time to emphasize that the sport is secondary and that a commitment to the college is strong despite the lack of an athletic opportunity, admission officials won't have to quibble over whether a student will walk away once a coach says, “No thanks."

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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