Do High School Athletes Have an Advantage in College Admissions?

high-school-athletes-college-admissionsShoot, score, acceptance? While it’s not as easy as a one, two, three, it’s true that sports can help to shape a well-rounded character—a trait that is certainly important to admissions. That said, can participating in a sport affect your college application more than other extracurricular activities? Read on to find out.

The lowdown on extracurricular activities

Extracurricular activities are a great way for students to develop new skills, friendships, and, of course, demonstrate commitment. However, when it comes down to the activity, the content isn’t as important as the level of involvement. And the same rings true for the number of activities you participate in. While it’s important for you to take part, college admissions committees are much more concerned with quality than quantity. At the same time, participating in a sport such as varsity soccer does carry with it an intense level of commitment, which admissions officers look for. Plus, the time-management skills you gain from participating in a varsity sport are unparalleled. Between extra course requirements, maintaining a strong GPA, attending away games, and attending practice at odd hours, high school athletes have their work cut out for them.

High school athletes can experience a number of benefits

Besides the potential to earn sports-specific scholarships, high school athletes don’t have any distinct advantage over other students, especially those with the same academic merit or extracurricular involvement. Still, they do benefit from their experience. The personal traits and skills an athlete can develop are vast and include a depth of commitment, perseverance, and leadership, among other qualities. In fact, according to Kevin Kniffin in a contribution to The New York Times: “…there are clear and robust individual and societal benefits that appear to be generated through the current system of school support for participation in competitive youth athletics.”

The pros and cons

Of course, there are risks related to sports, such as injury, and sports participation is time consuming and can present a number of challenges. For instance, if you commit to playing for 10 to 20 hours per week, you still have to be sure that you have time to dedicate to your studies, especially since your GPA has an impact on whether you can participate in games and be admitted to your dream school.

But as noted earlier in the post, being part of a sports team in high school can lead to a number of advantages. If you participate in sports solely for college acceptance, keep in mind that it’s not about the activity, but the commitment you demonstrate to your team and on your college application. If you have a passion for a sport, maintain that commitment and think about the benefits your participation has already brought you.