The Real Scoop on How Colleges View Quitting a Sport or Activity


If you have been doing an extracurricular activity or a sport for a long time and decide to stop, you may wonder: How will colleges view this in terms of your admissions chances?

The good news is that most colleges are not going to raise an eyebrow if you stop doing a particular sport or activity -- particularly since you don't have to mention every single activity or sport you did in high school on your college applications.

"Colleges honestly don't care if a student quits an activity or sport during high school," says Bruce Epstein, principal of First Choice College Counseling in Montgomery, N.J. “Remember that a student is entitled to omit whatever they want to omit, with the exception of say, disciplinary actions. There is no obligation to disclose everything, and a student is welcome to focus on their 'best self.'"

Even when a student quits a sport, it is viewed as stopping any other activity, in most cases.

“As far as a student quitting a sport in high school, it doesn't really affect our decision at my college," says Kristina Martin, undergraduate admissions counselor at Nazareth College in Rochester, N.Y. “We realize that students develop multiple interests, and so may have to forgo a certain activity. If the sport was a big thing for them and they stop participating, they will usually explain why i.e., not enough time, had a severe injury, needed to focus on something else, etc."

What is important is showing evidence of being involved in some activities and presenting participation in those activities in a positive light.

“I would say as long as a student shows they are continuing to be involved in something, that will be an indication that they aren't just 'coasting' but are indeed involved in some activities," says Martin.

Know How to Present Your "Best Self"

Instead of focusing on whether or not a college cares about you stopping a single activity, you should be more concerned about presenting your best self in your college application. According to Epstein, these are things that colleges do care about in college applications rather than whether you quit an activity or sport:

- Do you think outside of yourself serve others?

- Do you have time to do things outside of class/studying?

- What are you likely to continue doing during college?

- Why did you choose the activities that you did?

“It is okay (and healthy) to sometimes quit activities, and it is best to focus on the two or three that are most important to you and your 'personal narrative,'" advises Epstein.

So, if you quit an activity or sport, don't fret — you will still be able to present your best self through describing what other passions you have and activities you have participated in to reveal your most authentic self to prospective colleges.