College Q&A Recruiting

Question of the Day

I know a coxswain who just applied and got into UCLA. I heard that all she had to do on her application essays was write “athlete”. Does this ever happen? Or is it just like huge colleges if they really, really want you…

This sounds … unlikely. Admissions offices don’t care if you’re an athlete – yes, your coach can speak on your behalf and give his/her input on what you can bring to the team and to the university, but if the people reviewing your application don’t think that you’re a good fit academically, you won’t be accepted. I’m sure there are athletes that can get away with doing this but rowing is the last sport that I think it would happen in … and like I said, even if it does happen it’s gotta be a rare occurrence.

Simply writing “athlete” on your essays is a really gross display of arrogance in my opinion. Your grades matter, as does your ability to put pen to paper and demonstrate your critical thinking skills. Admissions essays are how the university gets to know you – it’s like an interview. It’s your opportunity to say “this is who I am and this is why you should accept me.” Would you walk into a place of business with a job application that just has the job title you want scrawled on it? I certainly hope not. Colleges “really, really want” students who are going to succeed in the classroom, get a degree, and go on to become successful citizens who make the university look good. Yes, they might be really excited that a 5-star recruit is applying there but they won’t be accepted simply on their athletic skills alone. Does it happen? On rare occasions, of course it does. Does that make it right? No.

I know this might sound like a naive plug for college but I promise it’s not. It’s coming from experience as someone who participated in D1 sports and as someone who worked with one of the countries most well-known D1 football teams (aka the exact type of people who you would think would just have to write “athlete” on their applications). Education matters and simply writing “athlete” undermines every person, athlete or not, who has ever taken the time to put down a thoughtful response.

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