While filling out the common or coalition application over the summer, juniors dread and may even cry over grade point averages, SAT or ACT scores, essays and recommendation letters- but not athletic achievement. Admission officers are urged by college coaches and alumni to accept applicants that perform well in sports; this is an unfair program that undermines the academic accomplishments of students and could result in students attending a university that they are not qualified to attend.
However, the National Collegiate Athletic Association claims that a student’s athletic career in college is never more important than their education. However, despite the high academic standards required to have a place within college athletics, plenty of universities lower the acceptance requirement to enter the institution when recruiting for high school athletes.
William Bowen, former president of Princeton University, co-wrote a book called “Reclaiming the Game: College Sports and Educational Values” where he revealed that the top 30 universities in the United States are four times more likely to accept a student athlete over other applicants of a similar academic standing.
One example is Brown University, a prestigious American university whose acceptance rate is 8.4 percent, a student that does not play sport will have to score a 33 or higher to be considered, whereas an athlete that performs well only has to score a 25 so that a coach could pursue him or her. This startling fact leaves us considering whether schools applicants should exhaust themselves filling out an application when a student who is less qualified than you could get in just because he can throw a ball.
Another example that is closer to home is Florida State University, a member the Southeastern Conference. Florida State’s football program is well established, highly competitive and has clout in regard to the acceptance of students into the college, even though other applicants might be more academically qualified.
Not only does Florida State University actively pursue athletes but also University of Florida, the most selective school in the state of Florida, searches for athletes to fill in the ranks of their football team with good athletes so that they can compete with other schools.
Recently the term “well-rounded” has been thrown around by college admission officers, meaning students have multiple extracurricular activities, several AP courses, and extensive community service. Student athletes work hard to excel in their sport and at school. These students show at an early age that they can balance the demanding schedule of a athlete and the rigor of multiple AP courses a skill called time management. For those who are not athletically inclined it is recommended that one participates in clubs as an officer not just a member. On the other hand, student athletes can be just as academically minded as a student dedicated to taking numerous AP classes.
Coaches are not the sole culprit for persuading admission officers into accepting student athletes but also alumni economically urge colleges perform well in sports especially football, and basketball. The economic encouragement is not explicitly said but colleges have found that athletics correlates to funding or donations for alumni. This caused by students wanting their alma mater to perform well in sports so that they can have bragging rights when talking to their colleagues.
Ultimately, athletic participation should not play a role into college acceptance unless admission officers are looking for a tiebreaker between applicants, because it undermines the the academic achievement of students who strive for success in classes and aim for high scores on the SAT or ACT, and essays. Yet there is nothing that we can do to change the minds of the college or the admission officers other than trying one’s best to impress them.
Aliya Leary// Staff Writer