Preparing for College

Do Colleges Care About My Out-of-School Sport?

Question: Do colleges care if you have a in-school sport or out-of-school sport? I have never been on any sports team in my school but I actually go to this park which is by my house where a team meets every day to practice. I am a speed skater and I have been doing this for almost 4 years now and I was wondering if the school cared that I practice my sport out of school.

When it comes to extracurricular endeavors, there are what I call “pluses” and “hooks” in the admission process. A “plus” is any undertaking that shows admission officials that you have used your time constructively, and a “hook” means that you offer something that the colleges really want and which will thus give you an edge at decision time.

An applicant gets a “hook” from a sport only when the target college has a team in that sport and when the coach is interested in having this applicant on the team. The Good News: It doesn’t matter if the sport is in school or outside of school. If a coach is hot for you, then you’ve got a “hook.” The Bad News: Your sport is one that you probably won’t find at your target colleges, so you won’t get a “hook” from it.

BUT (more good news coming … ) speed skating is an unusual extracurricular activity. Admission folks are always on the lookout for applicants who are different, who take part in activities other than the predictable ones that they see all the time (e.g., yearbook, Key Club, Model UN, student government, band …) Your speed skating will definitely help you stand out in a crowd.

So even if you don’t get a full-blown hook from this passion, you should definitely highlight it on your applications because it could be a very big plus.

(posted 9/25/2012)