How To Impress The Decision-Makers

As an athlete looking to be recruited onto a college field hockey team, much of your correspondence throughout the recruiting process will be with the head or assistant coach. It is important to remember, however, that the admissions decision made for you as an applicant will happen within the walls of (as the name suggests…) the admissions office! Impressing the coach will come naturally to you as a talented athlete, but you can GREATLY improve your chances of admissions by also understanding how to impress the ultimate decision-makers: the admissions readers.

Behind closed doors, the coach will coordinate with the admissions office to understand your strength as an applicant and guide you accordingly. This is a conversation that the coach will take the lead on and not one that you have to worry about. Being an amazing athlete is what gets you into this conversation, but there are a few other factors that are concerns of the admissions office, and bolstering these on your own can enhance your chances of admissions – which every coach will love to see! Let’s dig into a few of these tips…

(1) Keep up those grades!

I’m sure you hear this from just about every adult in your life, but it is worth saying again! While most admissions office review applications holistically, looking at all parts of an application from essays to recommendations, your transcript is ALWAYS the first place an admissions reader will look. Think of your academic resume as your “handshake” with the admissions office. The higher the grades, the easier it will be for any coach to impress admissions with your application. Keep in mind that your junior year is the last full year that an admissions office will see (you apply at the beginning of senior year), which means that is where the spotlight will be! Work for that upward trend. Some athletes display lower grades during the field hockey season due to the time commitment, so keeping your grades up year-round is a fantastic way to differentiate yourself in the admissions process.

(2) Test wisely!

Directly on the heels of your transcript, the admissions reader is going to take a peak at your standardized testing scores – SAT or ACT (and sometime the SAT Subject Tests).Beyond your grades, this is the second most imporant place to make a splash with the admissions team – the higher your scores, the easier it will be to sway the admissions reader. With this in mind, it is important that when you test, you test wisely. The best standardized test results have been shown to come from 1-2 months of intensive studying that bumps up RIGHT against the test. Plan to take your tests during your off-season when you have the most time to dedicate to this studying effort. It always pays off to study hard for the first test and save one backup, instead of half-heartedly studying and having to take the test many times. When you study, give it your all the first time!

(3) Dig deep for those essays

The admissions readers know you are much more than just an athlete – you have quirks, academic passions, goals, and more that build the full picture of who you are. There is only one place in the application where you get to choose how those SHINE through in your own voice – the essays. While your athletic talent and academics are important features, stunning essays can sway an admissions reader far more than most people imagine. If you have some weak spots in grades or testing, compelling essays can put you right back in the running, or even at the top of the pile! Many athletes choose to talk about their sport in the application, but remember that passion will be VERY obvious from your extracurricular resume. You may even have a recommendation from a teacher or coach that shares your athletic talent. Use the essay to talk about another passion of yours and become a multifaceted applicant! Talk about what you “nerd out” about, problems you would like to solve in the world around you, or what makes you tick academically or socially. This is such a strong way to stand out from the rest of the crowd. Bottom line: remember that your voice matters in the admissions office, so give those essays some close attention and make them count.

(4) ALWAYS remember to visit the admissions office too

This is the Golden Rule of college networking – make sure the admissions office knows you were there! Whether you are at a college fair, when a rep visits your high school, or during any other form of contact with colleges, be sure to sign the form that let’s them know you were there. Many students think “I’m already on the email list, so I don’t need to sign this again.”….NOPE! Each college will track every single time they met with you and this is visible on your application. More points of contact means more faith that you will attend if accepted after showing so much interest in the school. For athletes, I see this opportunity forgotten mostly during the college camps that you will attend or during a college visit. Instead of just meeting with the coach or attending the camp, make a stop by the admissions office part of your time there. Say hello to your admissions officer, grab some brochures, or take a tour – but most of all, sign the visit form so they know you were there! This demonstrated interest goes a long way in the admissions office and is a good strategy to remember.

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