Reach School for Recruited Athlete?

Question:  How much does sports help in gaining admission to a selective D1 public university (40-50% admitted)? My 11th grade son is nationally ranked in his non-revenue sport, and the coach at a selective school wants him to come for visit. His GPA is 3.6 unweighted in a mix of college prep and honors courses and he will take AP Calc as a senior. However, his test scores are probably at 25%ile for the selective public school; he will actually qualify for academic and athletic aid at some other public and private colleges. Students at selective school would have taken more APs. He didn’t take more APs due to the number of hours he trains in his sport. He would not be a candidate for selective school without athletics. Before we pay for a flight for an unofficial visit, I had two questions: 1)Do most D1 schools have a certain number of admits for athletes that are not dumb jocks but may have lower test scores but still above national average? 2) Even if a recruit can get in with a lower profile, should he/she? Athletes will practice 20 hours a week plus travel so if they are a borderline candidate for a school, are they at too much of a risk of losing eligibility for not maintaining GPA? Should they instead pick a school where they would be in the 50-75%ile of enrolled students and have a better chance of maintaining GPA and playing sports? Athletes do get academic support and tutoring so we have mixed feelings about his fit at selective school. It would be a great opportunity if it works out but he has other options. He would not want to give up those to be waitlisted for selective school.

When a college coach is seriously interested in a student, it doesn’t mean that the student is sure to be accepted, but it does go a long way with the admission folks, especially when the student/athlete’s academic statistics are at least in the ballpark, so to speak.  Although your son’s test scores are at the bottom of the median range, the fact that they are still in the median range is a biggie. From the little information I have here, it sounds as if his admission odds are good … if the coach continues to pursue him.

Most colleges (especially D1, but really at all levels) admit athletes whose GPA and test scores would not make them viable candidates without their athletic “hook.” Yet commonly these athletes are just fine once enrolled.

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