The College Search

Are so-called "jock" schools less strong in academics?

Question: Are so-called "jock" schools less strong in academics?

First, let's define what a "jock" school is for the benefit of those who may not know. A jock school is a college or university that has a reputation for being highly competitive in intercollegiate sports. These schools are known also for aggressively recruiting athletes to keep their sports program strong.


There is no necessary correlation between a strong athletic program and weak academics. There any number of examples of schools that have good sports programs and excellent academics. Back in 1997, Princeton University won a record number of NCAA Division I and Ivy League sports championships. They won the NCAA lacrosse title and the Ivy League football championship. I don't think anyone questions Princeton's academic credentials. Dartmouth College is another Ivy

League example. They have a reputation for both sports and academic excellence.

Penn State University, one of the nation's more selective public universities, is known, of course, as a national football power. They also have very competitive teams in a number of other areas. I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture here.

The term "jock school" is a stereotype. We know how misleading stereotypes can be. My only advice to anyone trying to judge the relative academic strength of schools that have a strong sports program is to check graduation rates. Princeton and Dartmouth graduate almost every incoming freshman. Their graduation percentage is in the 95-97 percent range. Some schools, however, may be graduating only 40 percent of their freshman.

In cases where a high number of freshmen graduate, you can be assured that the academics at that school are strong and that qualified applicants are admitted regardless of how strong their jock image may be.