Writing about Sports as a Student-Athlete
Join CollegeAdvisor Admissions Expert and former student-athlete Mariko Rooks as they present “Writing about Sports as a Student-Athlete.” In the first half of the webinar, Mariko will discuss what makes a successful application and how to write about being a high performing athlete without falling into cliches. During the live Q&A portion of the webinar in the last 30 minutes, attendees will have a chance to ask questions to Mariko about every aspect of the admissions process and the experience of being a college athlete. Come ready to learn and bring your questions!
2022-09-13 – Writing about Sports as a Student-Athlete
Hi, everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s webinar on Writing About Sports As a Student Athlete. To orient everyone with webinar timing we’ll start up with the presentation, then answer your questions in a live Q&A on the sidebar. You can download our slides and you can start so many of your questions on the Q&A tab.
Now let’s meet our panelist.
Hi everyone. My name is Mariko Rooks. I use she/her pronouns and I graduated from Yale actually twice one first in 2021 as an undergraduate with a history of science, medicine, and public health and ethnicity, race and migration, double major, and last year, once again, and the class of 2022 as part of our five year masters in public health program.
Oh, wow. Uh, so real quick, we’re just gonna do a poll to see where everyone is at. So what grade are you in? Eighth, ninth, 10th, 11th, 12th, or other. And other can be if you’re taking a gap year, if you’re a transfer student, and if you’re a parent on call, you can select the grade that your student is going into.
And while we wait for that, can you tell us, did you do any sports in high school? Absolutely. So in high school, I was a two sport varsity athlete. I played both softball and water polo. I also played in the off season on club teams for both sports, but primarily actually for softball was where I did most of my traveling around.
And I continued playing water polo in college for Yale. And I now work for USA water polo. So sports very much still in my life. Oh, wow. Uh, so it’s looking like we have 14%, 10th graders, 52% 11th graders and 32% 12th grader. And you can control the slides and I’ll be adding information in the public chat for y’all to read.
But yeah, you can control the slides.
Oh, I can control the slides. Oh, okay. That makes more sense. I was like, wow. This is a new future that we have. Okay. All right, let’s go ahead and move on then. So the first thing we’re sort of talking at today, right? The title of the webinar is writing about your student athlete experience. And the first question would be well, where can you do that?
And really there’s going to be three different methods within the college application overall approach that one can talk about their student athlete experience in high school, the first, and this might be why some of you are here is for varsity recruitment material. So if you’re interested in playing a.
Board in college, which means that if you’ve ever heard division one division two and division three, you’d be playing at that level. You would be talking about your experience as a student athlete and pitching yourself to coaches as part of your recruitment package. And so you can either get recruited help through admissions, which is what a lot of folks do.
If you hear about people signing to a school. Um, but keep in mind also that some schools do. Offer recruited help through admissions in terms of actually boosting your application all the way through the process. The Ivy’s, for example, still do require you to apply. It’ll give you a little bit of a bump, but at the end of the day, the admissions committee is the one making the decision and you can also walk on.
To a team, which means that you were not recruited within that initial varsity push, but you know, you think that you can hang with a college team and you’re interested. And so normally this is after you commit to a college, you can email the coach and go that way in terms of the. Broader application process.
If you’re not necessarily interested in playing a sport in college at that level, there are gonna be two sections where you can talk in most like general college applications about the sports. Process that you’ve experienced in high school. The first is for any school that offers an essay, you can talk about sports in your personal statement and or in your school specific supplemental essays, just depending on what school you’ve decided to apply to.
Of course not all schools offer an essay section. And so regardless though most schools do offer some sort of extracurricular section. If you’re applying on the common app and through the UC system, uh, the university of California system. And so. If you’re applying via the extracurricular section, some important things to include are going to be team and individual awards and rankings if applicable to you and responsibilities, if you’re a captain or in another team leadership position.
Okay, cool. So if you have any questions, feel free and leave them in the chat, but that’s our general overview of what we’re talking about today. Oh, go back. One slide there. We. Nope. Go forward. One slide. There we go. Okay. So. What are different sports topics that students can describe in their activities list or essay?
I think it really, of course, depends on you and what your experience was and what you feel was valuable about playing a sport, or you feel was valuable about playing a sport, but some essays that I’ve seen written that were successful have talked about things like leadership, I think is a big one. Um, especially when you’re applying to more selective schools, they’re not just curious about what you did.
They’re curious about how you impacted. or change things in your community and left them better than you found them. And so being able to give concrete examples of leadership on and off the court or field is going to be something that colleges really resonate with. When they’re looking to figure out who is going to add to our campus at sort of the next level of education.
I think things like effort and. As well, um, anyone who’s played sport for long enough knows that you definitely don’t succeed all the time. And so being able to talk about the process of overcoming or persevering also shows the kind of dedication that you learn in sports that you can bring to other aspects of your life.
Once you’re in college, of course, teamwork is a big one for anyone who plays a team sport, uh, being able to talk about the dynamics with your other teammates, what you’ve learned from them, how you’ve. Uh, to resolve conflict or conflict resolution. Those are also great things to talk about failure and success as mentioned.
Right. Um, how do you overcome failure? How do you cope with success and pressure? All of those things I think are really. Wonderful aspects of playing sports that you get to learn those skills so early. And of course, the sort of generic overall character building in terms of what sports has done for you personally, and how sports has impacted the values that you hold and the approach that you have to the world in general.
So again, this is a very truncated list. There are totally things that you can talk about in your essays or extracurricular section that are not included here. This is a general overview, if you’re not quite sure, maybe where to start, uh, you can perhaps take a stab at using one or more of these as themes for essays or activities, section caption or captions.
So those are options. And so when you’re talking about the activities list, which is the second one of these, um, remember that there’s normally a character limit. The description section of your activities list, uh, depending on what system you’re applying through, you’ll have anywhere between 150 to 350 characters, to be able to talk about your, uh, to be able to talk about sports in your application process on the extracurricular sections.
And so the first thing is really focus on concise explanations. I have an example here that there’s a yes. And there’s a no, the yes. Involves. The highlights of your career on the team or in your sport, right? For your varsity softball, starting catcher, 2021, captain 2019 state champion, all league first team.
This is what I did during practice leading practices, organizing play calling, right. That gives a really good snapshot or overview. What you’ve been doing and also what your accomplishments are within the sport. What I do see a lot of though, what I help kids out with their applications is sort of these longer, full sentence explanations of maybe what you sort of feel like you do on a day to day basis, but not necessarily highlighting.
What’s been achieved out of that. And so, um, a lot of times I see something like I play for my high school softball team. We have practices most days of the week, last year I was elected captain and I try to help my teammates out by telling them the stretches at the beginning of practice and reminding them of plays during games effectively.
Right. These two things are. True descriptions of this imaginary student’s involvement in their sport, but one of them is much more impactful than the other, both in terms of word and character count. And also in terms of highlighting, you know, how successful you are, the extracurricular section is much more of a brag sheet than the essay section.
So being sure that you get all of your accomplishments in there and figuring. And this is why if you have right someone in our CollegeAdvisor network, who’s helping you with the process, they can do that too, figuring out how to really put your best foot forward in terms of making all of the incredible things that you do sound as cool as they actually are.
So that is the advice that I would give on the activity section is really gives like a nice holistic review. Keep it short. And also remember that, you know, there are only. Certain things that you’re going to be able to include in this section. So prioritizing the things that really highlight your achievements.
So in terms of describing your athletic experience, Broadly in the best light possible. Right? The first thing is what we talked about just in the other slide, tape credit, for everything that you do from stats to the responsibilities you have towards your sport and perhaps your team. Sometimes we don’t realize how impressive our everyday life can look on paper, or we perhaps don’t have the vocabulary to talk about it as such, but remember that the more impactful the verbs that you use are so things like helped out versus.
organized or led, right. Um, really sort of packing a punch with those kinds of statements is going to be part of that. That’s really, I. The second thing is be honest, of course be tactful, right. But there’s no run one right way to experience athletics. If you played a sport and you hated it, but it taught you something about yourself or the world around you.
That’s okay. You can say that if you, in your essay section, if you played a sport and you loved it, then say that if it’s somewhere in the middle there’s room for that too. Um, athletics, one of the beautiful things about athletics, and one of the things I’ve really learned working as. In, in athletics and professional athletics as postgrad is that athletics can mean different things to everyone.
And that’s all right. But the important thing is that personal truth and authenticity always read clearly. So if you did have this really dramatic story of being the complete underdog, who didn’t know how to play your sport, and you fought your way through the ranks and you did it, you were state champion at the.
Great. Write about that. If that’s important to you, but if that’s not your story, you do not have to make your life sound like a Rocky movie. It’s okay. Um, whatever you say will come across as long as you’re being honest and truthful and making sure that other people experience that when they read your essay.
And the last thing is to remember your readers. Some readers played sports too. So certain descriptions can be more universal in terms of the feelings that you had or the things that you’re talking about. In fact, as someone with a pretty good relationship with my own Yale admissions counselor, I do know that we both played a plot sports in high school.
And so part of reading my supplemental package, um, That actively resonated with him, but some readers may have never played an entire sport in their life and ended up in college admissions for way other reasons. So make sure that you’re contextualizing your writing and experiences in a way that will make it possible from someone who’s from a completely different background to still understand what it is you’re talking about.
And also bear in mind that there’s a wide variety of how sports are played or how athletics are like activities are organized. even from within state to state, but around the country, things can look drastically different. So giving that kind of context is gonna be important because even if someone played the same sport as you, their experience could look incredibly dissimilar to your own, some things to avoid, I would say, right.
Don’t just play a sport to play a sport in terms of. Putting it in as a resume or college application builder, or if you do, because you need a more well rounded profile, maybe that’s not the thing you write about. If that’s not the thing that actually motivates you. And the next thing I would say is just avoid.
If you’re talking about failures, making the failures about other people, it’s a little tough, sometimes read essays where you’re talking about something you’ve overcome and it’s related to sports, but it’s about how everyone else on the team was terrible. And every other coach that you had was terrible.
Even if that’s your experience and that’s your truth, just make sure that you are, um, confining that in a very sort of succinct and tactful way and focusing on yourself instead, because there’s nothing that sort of comes across more poorly than you spending an entire essay, like talking on everyone else.
So just making sure that you’re. Writing about you is gonna be the second thing. Other than that, I would say that, you know, there’s not too much to avoid as long as you’re making sure that again, right. It’s your story. Okay. I’ll turn it over to Mackenzie for the goal. Yeah. So, um, where are you in the application process?
Haven’t started, I’m researching schools. I’m working on my essays. I’m getting my application materials together, or if you’re really lucky, I’m almost done. And while we wait for that, can you tell us how did writing about sports impact your application? Absolutely. So I only wrote about sports. Once actually in my entire application process, um, even though I had some support through admissions for a couple of different schools that I was looking at at the time to play sports in college, I still applied to, uh, a pretty wide variety of schools because I didn’t want to foreclose any of my options at the Ivy’s and Ivy level schools just to play sport.
And so that was my personal choice. Not everyone, you know, goes that route. Some people just early admissions. They’re through and they’re done and they’re committed. Um, but based on the rest of my portfolio, I thought I had a decent shot at a couple of other schools. So I decided to do that. Um, I wrote about sports.
Uh, as one of my Yale college supplementals talking about like a community that you’re part of. And I’ll talk a little bit more about that later. Mm-hmm I think it was a really lovely essay to write. It was one of the fastest that I had done and one of the ones that needed the least editing actually. Um, but I do think that a lot of the values that I learned from sports, um, in terms of really committing and putting in the hours to get my essays done, uh, reflected really strongly in my overall process.
So it’s looking like we have 17%, haven’t started 56% are researching schools. Another 17% are working on their essays and 11% are getting their application materials together.
Excellent. Well, it sounds like we have a wide variety of folks who are at different phases in the college process. And remember that, you know, we’re here to help you every step of the way. So. Let’s go ahead and talk. Yeah. Mackenzie did a nice sort of lead into this about hello. I’m here because I did sports things.
Right. So let’s chat a little bit about what I did and hopefully that will. Useful inspiration or at least can get you thinking about what you might be able to write. So my supplemental, one of my supplemental essays for Yale, which keep in mind is pretty short. It was about a paragraph and change, uh, focused on my high school water polo team, which was a really wonderful source of support for me as I navigated just the general.
Ups and downs of teenager hood and applying to college and, um, you know, competitive academics. This was also in a pre COVID world for me. So I was really fortunate to have all four years with my teammates. And so I focused a lot on these team dynamics and how I felt about the environment for me. It was less about.
What we had achieved and much more about the, the sort of sense of home that it brought me in high school. Um, especially when I was really stressed out about other stuff. And so I focused also too on the, on women and gender minorities in sports, just because right. Our team. Part of our bonding over that and part of our sort of recognition of the role of women’s sports and what we were bringing to the table in terms of representing our school was really important to us.
I expect a great deal of gratitude for my coaches, for my teammates, for the program, for shaping me into the person I am today. And then I tied all of the above into why our team was. Like pretty successful, um, my junior year, especially, and in talking about that, that’s sort of what motivated us and I, yeah, I had a really lovely time writing it.
Um, and I feel like that’s kind of unusual to say about a college application essay, but it did feel like a bit of a love letter to the program that, you know, really supported me throughout all of my high school experience. And so the advice that I would give again, right. Making sure that you are writing about athletics because you want to, because this is something that’s really important to you.
Not because you feel like you should be writing about it or that you have to mention it. Um, Also again, right? Remember that athletics looks very, very different across the country and across the world. So context is really, really important. You can do it succinctly. In fact, don’t spend too much time on it, but just make sure that you’re giving it in terms of helping people understand what sports might look like on a day to day basis for you.
And the last thing is that there’s a lot of variation in college, sports and careers in athletics, just because you’re writing. Sport in your application process doesn’t mean that you have to go on to be, you know, a college star in the sport. Most schools have varsity club and intramural level sports for all varieties of folks who are interested in still staying active in a, in a sort of sports based environment.
Club sports are a little bit more on the varsity high school, varsity level of sporting. You can sort of think about it that way in terms of time commitment, resources. and, uh, ability to do things outside of your sport and intramural are mostly for fun. Um, though they do get sometimes pretty competitive.
And so just remember that, you know, all of these options are equally valid and similarly, if you’re not interested in maybe playing a sport, there are tons. And I mean, tons of careers in athletics, that if you really love baseball, but like you have no intention of playing anymore baseball, you can work for.
Your team of choice as anything from an econ major to something that might be more sort of classically considered like sports medicine or, you know, kinesiology or something that you might consider to be more athletically oriented, but just remember that like your love of sports or your engagement in sports, doesn’t have to end just because you’re not playing a sport in college.
Yes. So that is the end of the presentation part of the webinar. I hope you found this information helpful and remember that you can download the slide from the link in the handouts tab, and this webinar is being recorded. If you would like to view it again later on our website, um, moving on to live Q&A I’ll read through your questions you submitted in the Q&A tab and read them aloud before our panelist gives you.
As a heads up, if your Q&A tab, isn’t letting you to submit questions, just make sure that you join the webinar through the custom links into your email and not from the webinar landing page. Also known as the website, um, or else you won’t get all the features of big markers. So just make sure that you join through the custom link now onto the Q&A.
Okay. So you kind of answered this, but just to reiterate, should a student athlete write about their sport? Like, do they have. They definitely don’t have to, but for sure write about it. If it’s been something that’s been meaningful in your life, and if you spent a lot of time on your sport, right. Um, because you’ve been playing it for a really long time, try to weave that in somewhere.
So people understand what you’ve been up to, right. Because the general. Application process looks at like, sort of how are you using your time holistically? And so if you’ve spent a lot of time doing one specific thing, then make sure that’s acknowledged somewhere. You don’t have to write a whole essay about it, but make sure it’s acknowledged somewhere.
Mm-hmm going on to the next question. What are the benefits of using your essay, um, to write about, uh, your sport? So I think ultimately it depends on you and. Entire package you’re put, putting forth as a candidate when it comes to your profile. And right, again, if you have a CollegeAdvisor, uh, advisor, then you can sort of strategize what the entire package and the entire portfolio of sort of you as a person that you’re presenting to colleges might look like.
But I would say that generally, it’s going to be about change you’ve enacted in your community. Um, Be it through the sport directly in terms of right. How you, like what you’ve accomplished or what you’ve helped develop for your school, for your team, for your community. And also in terms of things that you’ve learned or values that you’ve, uh, been able to acquire through playing a sport.
So how is playing a sport influenced, right? The way that you think about the world and the way and more, and just as importantly, the way that you’re going to approach. Challenges setbacks and achievements in the next phase of your life, because that’s also what colleges are looking for. It’s like, okay, if I admit this person, then what are they gonna do once they’re here?
And so if you feel that you can sort of make a case for, um, you know, how you’ve come to be the person that you’re going to be and why that matters to colleges through your sport. Then I think that’s like a huge advantage of writing about sports in this particular context. and then also, um, similar to like other extracurriculars using an essay to write about them, uh, like your personal statement or any other essay can give you more room to really explain like your growth and, um, all the different.
Like your mindset with the sport or activity, um, whatsoever. Whereas the activity section is definitely more limited. And you may wanna talk more about achievements or your roles in that, in that section of the application, whereas in the essays, you get more room to explore beyond just like stats and numbers.
Yeah. Thank you so much for clarifying that McKenzie. I realized I’d not actually say the word essay when I was just talking about all these sort of very grand like and broad themes. So I really appreciate. Uh, kind of going off of the benefits. Um, where was it? Um, oh my gosh. Where did it go? Uh, can writing about, uh, the sport increase your chance of getting recruited?
So this is the thing that I will say about recruitment, the admissions office and the sports directors. The only contact that they really have with each other is if the. coaches and recruitment coordinators for your sport, send your information to the admissions office. It does not happen the other way around.
I cannot emphasize this enough. If you want to be recruited for your sport, that process is going to be very, very different. Then just writing about your sport in the sort of like essay portion of your college application. If you’re going to, if you’re interested in being recruited for your. It depends on the sport.
There is some differentiation between each sport, but the way that you’re gonna go about that is that you need to email the coaches of the team that you’re interested in separately. And ideally way way before the actual application gets sent in. If you want to be recruited, if you wanna walk on, you can wait until afterwards, but if you wanna be recruited and have a guaranteed spot on that, You should be emailing as early as sophomore or junior year because coaches start putting together their roster of potential, um, team members that early.
Uh, again, it depends a little bit on the sports sports, like football, where things like how much you grow and what your junior stats are. Um, not or a lot that can be a little bit later. You can be a junior to really sort of start that process. But for other sports, particularly sports that predominantly.
Out of a club circuit as opposed to a high school circuit. So it’s gonna be sports like softball, volleyball, um, field hockey, a lot of women’s sports. Honestly, you should be emailing sooner rather than later. And so when you email those coaches, you should say like, hi, this is my name. This is the school I go to.
This is my grade. Here are my stats. And here is why I want to go to your school and you should be linking. You highlight film or highlight real if you have one into that email. And so that needs to get sent out way before the actual application process happens. If you want to do that, if you want to like, talk to me about that further, that is definitely an option if you’re involved in our CollegeAdvisor network, but that’s like sort of the bare minimum for being a potentially recruited athlete is to go through that process.
Yeah. If you write about it in your essay, your sports. Uh, will not hear about that at the collegiate level. Okay. So going on to the next question, um, we’re talking about the essays of a student as asking, are there any cliches when writing about sports? Well, I mean, all the general sports cliches, right.
Still apply within the essay process. I would really suggest that like, sort of what keeps it unique. Focusing on like the specifics of your story, right. Um, as opposed to just sort of being like sports is great in general or sports is talk like, right sports. Does this in general, I would focus on the things in your life specifically that maybe make, um, things a little bit different.
Right? I think a lot of folks use sports to talk, for example, about overcoming hardships that they have and other aspects of their life, right. That like your sport is your escape or the place where you go, when things get dark. That’s not a new concept. Right. But you can write about it in a very cliched way that is sort of really general, or you can narrow into the specifics of what’s happening in your life.
If you feel comfortable sharing that on your application and how sports right. Interacted with you individually with all essay topics, right? There’s, there’s no new essay topics for the most part, unless you’re writing about something completely out of left field. Tons of people write about their moms.
Tons of people write about, uh, you know, a class that they took in school. Tons of people write about sports. So it’s not so much about, um, being original in that sense as it is in making it personal. If that makes any sense. Mm-hmm like if somebody were to read it, would they be able to tell it it’s you as opposed to great, great, great litmus.
Uh, going into the next question a student is asking, what are your thoughts about mentioning negative aspects of your sport? You play and love? Um, I E exclusivity of golf and how you might, uh, hope to hope it could change. I think that’s a great topic to write about. I actually work in diversity and equity for water polo.
So, uh, my entire job focuses on expanding the sport in a way that combats hundreds of years of oppression. Um, so I think it, that kind of topic is really great. I think. What’ll really send that essay to the next level though, is actually doing something about that in your local, or even like broader than local communities.
So it’s one thing to say, like I’ve seen this thing and I think it might, I think it needs to change. And like maybe I’ll do something out in college and a very different thing to say. I’ve seen how exclusive golf is in high school and it can be as small as I’ve mentored another person who was like a bit younger than me, and really tried to show them their ropes and help them and teach.
And talking about that too. Um, sort of on a bigger level, right? Like, so I have been holding regular clinics to engage people with golf, or I’ve been fundraising to support like, um, extra costs for people who are interested in golf, but can’t afford to play because the financial barriers or whatever that is.
So I would really encourage you, especially if you’re still a junior to think about what you can do about it now, because there are definitely things that you can sort. Do on your own. Um, and that’s such a great start and looks and one is really important and meaningful, I hope. Right. But two is, looks really great on your application.
Mm-hmm, , uh, kind of going back to something you mentioned earlier, but, um, if you are being recruited for a sport, does that mean you have to apply like early decision early action or can you apply regular. So it depends on the school and it depends on the sport and that is going to be really up to your initial or your relationship with the coaches.
Um, if you are like committing to a school. And so, you know, that that is your number one school, your top choice, and you really want to be on the team for that school. You will most be likely be applying early decision and, or like, and slash or early action depending on what the school’s options are. And so that means that, you know, you’re.
each coach has a certain number of slots and depending on how big and also like how good your program is, there’s some like radiation and like levels of support. Uh, but each, each coach each year has a certain number of spots, um, on their team for either like complete pass through admissions where like, unless, unless this kid like does something absolutely crazy, like they’re definitely in to.
If you wanna let them in. That’s totally okay. But you know, we’d really love to have ’em on the team if, if they, if they make it through the process. Right. And so there’s, there’s, there’s a gradation of that. Um, but depending on where you’re at in that process is gonna be like, whether you apply right. EA, ED or not.
Um, if they’re. If they’re not a hundred percent sold on you, or you’re not a hundred percent sold on them, you can apply regular decision and they might still include a note. Again, you have to talk to your individual coaching team about this, but they might still include a note in admissions about that, or they might not.
Um, I think for me, the, I mostly applied regular decision to places. I didn’t want to bind myself anywhere. And so I had a couple of different coaches that had that like second level of support for me, but I had, you know, Even when I had been offered that first level of ed support, I had been like, thank you so much.
That’s actually okay. I’m going to still sort of just see where I fit in, not just as an athlete, but as a person and make my decision from there. Uh, going on to next question, a student saying, coming from water polo, uh, coming from a water polo player myself, I’d always been told that writing about your sport as an essay topic or subtopic, wouldn’t really make it shine.
Is that true? Well, as a water polo player, I am very biased to say that is not true. You should totally write about water polo. In fact, everyone should always write about water polo. Um, but I. Keep in mind that water polo is kind of a niche sport. And there are a lot of reasons for that, both like from a systemic oppression level and also from a weather and like who has outdoor pools kind of level.
And so if you’re gonna write about water polo, I would say that either you really need to lean into what makes the sport. Unique. If you wanna talk about like the relationship you have with the water and like why the water is different and like what, what’s all good with that then, like, you can talk about some of the really specific things in the sport and that’ll make it stand out or you gotta go more general because like no one knows like, right.
What, like a two meter, you know, offensive foul is right. Or whatever. So, um, you, you then would have to like orient it. And this is what I did was. I think I mentioned like the fact that it took place at a pool, like once, right? Like it, it could have been any sport that I wrote about. It was more writing out the impact that it had on my life.
Um, and that was what made it unique was like, it was very clearly about me. Right. So, um, you can sort of do one or the other, but I would say, yeah, you can definitely write about water polo, which just how you’re gonna write about it. That matters. Mm-hmm uh, going on to next question. Should you only talk about a sport or competition that you wanted?
That you won. Yeah. You can totally write about a sport or competition that you did poorly in or that you struggled with or that, um, you know, you thought you were gonna win, but you didn’t, it’s all about what you took from that experience. And so I’ve read really, you know, incredible essays about failure in a particular sort of sense and how.
Approach that within the rest of their life, I’ve read a couple of really good essays about quitting sports all together, but what they learned from that process. So, um, you can totally write about things that, um, in the assay section specifically, right. That maybe didn’t look like, you know, super sort of pretty easy, all accomplishments everywhere, kind of.
Uh, going on to the next question, is students asking, would it be better to talk about something other than a recruited sport, if you are not recruited for that sport? So if you’re not recruited for the sport, I’m sorry. I’m a little confused by the question. So apologies to the person who asked it, um, if you’re not being recruited for the sport, then.
You can write about probably whatever you want, because if you’re not being recruited, they don’t know that you play sport in the athletics office. So it can be a topic if you want it to be a topic. If the question is, if you’re a recruited athlete, would it be better to write about the sport that you’re not being recruited for or to write about other topics?
Um, that depends on you probably right. If, if, if your sport is your whole life, right. And you know that you’re getting support through admissions anyway, then yeah, go ahead and write about your sport again, make, maybe make sure that it’s not like just that it is really personal, right. Um, or focus on a really specific experience that you’ve had in the sports.
You can really dig in and pull out those sensory details and the imagery that will sort of set it apart from different essays, because it’ll be. Specific to you. Um, so you can certainly do that. Uh, I would say that if you are being recruited though, and you know that you have support through admissions, it might be easier to write about something that isn’t the sport you play, because colleges do already know that you play that sport and that sport is important to you enough that you’re pursuing it in college.
So. Up to you. Of course also depends on what of the essay topics resonates with you and what you feel like you can write about from your experience. I would say that most people though, that are doing that essay tend to write about something other than their actual sport or again, one really specific experience that has less to do with the sport itself and more to do with like friendship or something.
uh, they added clarification and they said, um, can you still write about it even if you aren’t recruited for it? Oh, yes. Or be better to talk about something else? No, in fact’s. Uh, totally fine. I think that’s sort of the general context of like this webinar is that like, regardless of whether you want to be recruited for a sport or not, you can totally write about sports in your application process and you can totally, totally talk about what they’ve meant, what your sport has meant to you or what you’ve learned from it.
And so I would actually encourage. Um, if it’s something you feel like comfortable writing about, because if you pair that with other essays about, you know, your academics or your family or extracurriculars, um, it’ll give you like a really nice and well-rounded profile. If you have more than one essay option.
mm-hmm, , uh, kind of going off of that. Can you talk a bit about how the recruitment process and like the application process timeline sort of go together? Absolutely. So the main thing is that the recruitment process is gonna be earlier than the application timeline, as we’ve talked about before, right.
Reaching out to coaches, engaging with them. If you want to be recruited athlete, Long before the actual essays and the, you know, the whole package are submitted. Um, it also means that if you’re being sort of recruited at the, at the highest level, that that recruitment is probably happening in the earlier side of the application process, when it comes to like submitting your application, if you’re submitting early decision or early action, that’s normally about a month, if not two, before everybody else.
Um, if you’re. Not at a school that like offers an early action option. Like some public schools just don’t then your timeline will be pretty much the same with the caveat that you know, that like you’re getting support through admissions. And if you’re not sure if you want to play or not, um, but you wanna keep options open then your timeline’s pretty much gonna stay the same.
But again, it’s just sort of this added layer of communication with coaches and with, um, you know, other folks in your sort of sports network. Mm. Yes. And with that in mind, for those in the room who. Who aren’t already working with us. We know that the college admissions process can be overwhelming for parents and students alike, especially when considering, um, what to write about in your essays.
Um, whether or not you wanna get recruited, figuring out which schools have the sports that you’re interested in our team up over 300, former admissions officers and admissions experts are ready to help you and your family navigate it all in 101 advising sessions, uh, take charge of your family’s college admissions journey by setting up for a free 45 minute strategy session with an admissions expert using the QR code on the screen.
Um, so that will take you to set up a meeting and you’ll be able to talk about the different. Um, programs and rates, but just to tell you a little bit more about CollegeAdvisor, by signing up for CollegeAdvisor, you get paired with a wonderful advisor who again, can help you in one-on-one advising sessions.
And these advisors do have experiences in sports and recruitment, and they’re going to the schools that you’re interested in, so they can give you more insight into not only the process, but. Schools, um, that you’re looking into our financial aid team can help you with navigating which schools will offer the best scholarships and funds.
And just to clarify, for student athletes, none of the Ivy leagues offer merit based scholarships, such as athletic scholarships, art scholarships, or academic scholarships, um, your merits and qualifications help you get into the school. Getting on the team is its own separate process. And then financial aid is based on your family’s financial situation.
So if you’re looking for a full ride, in the sense of getting like a full athletic scholarship, you will not get that at the Ivy leagues and some other schools, there are schools, um, outside of the Ivy system that do offer full athletic scholarships. Uh, also, um, What else our essay review team can help, um, with, um, figuring out, uh, how to tweak your essays and make it the strongest essay possible.
Especially if you wanna talk about sports and your advisor can help you with figuring out which topic is gonna be the best to represent you, especially since they get this time to really build a connection with you, um, while you’re working with them and they can, um, show you where your essays need some work, what topics are good and can really help you through that process.
So again, sign up, um, for our free, um, strategy session by scanning the QR code on this screen. Now back to the Q&A, uh, going up to the next question, you mentioned some of those, um, sort of themes in, uh, the earlier slide. Um, so is there anything that a student should, uh, like focus on whether it’s like a specific event skills gain teamwork?
Like how can they bring about all these diff. How can they, um, determine which aspects they wanna show in the essay? Should they show something of everything like leadership, um, teamwork and all the things, or just focus on something? Yeah. Well, there’s certainly a lot of overlap, right? Between some of the things you’re talking about.
If you’re leading, you’re probably leading a team. And so then teamwork is probably like, right. Part of that leadership role. Say that when you’re sort of choosing what to talk about and what to narrow down, really look at the prompt of the actual essay that you’re answering, because I think that will help a lot.
And in general, the advice that I give to my advisees, um, in this network is to really go back to the prompt, because that is one of the first things admissions officers look at anyway, because that helps them weed out, right. Who is really sort of paying attention and answering the question. And. so I would say that that can help a lot in terms of narrowing something down a bit more.
Um, there are also different sort of writing techniques that you can use, uh, that can also help with that, for example, right. If you want to provide a really broad chronological overview and all of the different points in that chronology sort of add up to one fundamental life lesson or. One big aspect of your identity that you feel like you want to talk about, or maybe you feel like it’s helped you in every aspect of your identity.
And here are all the different aspects, right? You can do it that way. Um, if you want to focus on a specific event or a specific period in time, you can really drill into. Some of the, again, right. Imagery based and sensory details to help really build out the scene that you’re trying to portray and convey that sort of sense of having been there for your reader.
So part of it again, right. It’s, it’s hard to give a catch all on anything essay related and it does somewhat depend on you, but those would be my suggestions to. Uh, kind of going off of that. Um, when I was going through the admissions process, I was in this college prep program and one of the, um, like counselors in the program was a former admissions officer.
And she was saying how, um, one of the, she read that was from a student athlete, wasn’t even really about the sport. It was about, it was about the bus rides to the. Sporting events and like their thought process and that bus ride, what they did to like prepare and stuff. And so like a different angle, even though it’s still kind of talking about the sport.
Um, so like there are even different ways to look at it. It’s really about like, whatever you feel comes to mind about the topic. Exactly. And whatever. Right. Best conveys the answer to the question in the prompt and also like something that is important to. Right. Because again, the most important aspect of the sport does not have to be about winning does not have to be about like the actual mechanics of playing it.
Right. It could be something like, like that’s a really great example of like the best rides. Right. Uh, going on to the next, uh, question kind of going back to the last one, but, um, does a student need to be like the team captain in order to write about leader? Not at all. And in fact, you can get really good essays about, uh, sort of leading from the middle or leading from behind that don’t involve being a stated leader.
And in fact, if you can write a good essay about it, it shows that, you know, you’re willing to sort of step up and help out the folks around you, even if you’re not given a formal position. And I think that in of itself is really powerful. That’s been something you’ve been doing and certainly is something that you can tell colleges.
and that goes for all extracurricular activities. You do not need to be the president of the club or on like the board or anything. You can just be a active member. Mm-hmm going on to the next question. Should you write about a sport, even if you weren’t the best player or great at it? I think yes. For sure.
Right. Uh, again, it’s gonna be what the sport means to you personally, and, um, sort of what lessons you’ve learned from it, but I. Even, I was not necessarily like, especially on my high school team, like I wasn’t within like right the top, like two or three players through that program. Granted, it was a pretty competitive program, but I still wrote about it anyway.
And it’s still sort of all ended up working out. I think it’s totally okay to write about something, especially if it’s a new experience or you put yourself out there to write about. mm-hmm uh, a student is asking about, um, would writing about gymnastics, be an overuse essay topic and how to make it unique.
So to kind of broaden it, how can students in a more popular sport are a more well known sport? Um, make their essays unique to them. Absolutely. Um, first of all, gymnastics is very cool and very difficult. So prompt you for gymnastics game. Uh, that is very cool of you just objectively. I think that when it comes to writing about gymnastics, um, again, it’s not about whether it’s overused or not.
It’s about whatever sort of spin that you have on it. That personally conveys something about yourself. Um, right. Again, No new essay topics, right? Lots of people write about the same things, the number of essays about people writing about their moms exponential. Right. But do essays about people’s moms regularly get into Ivy league schools?
Yes. And it’s the same thing for sports, right? I think if you’re wanting to look for things that maybe feel a bit like less cliche or, um, you know, less like other people might be talking about it, I would say focus on like the specifics. You, but also like your community and the context in which you’re engaging in your sport because that in of itself, right.
Is not going to be the same around, um, be the same for everyone. And so, um, being able to like hone in on your personal journey is definitely something that will be unique no matter what, because right. You’re you, you’re not someone else. Mm-hmm uh, going on to the next question. Should you write about a sport?
If you want to play it in college and on the opposite end, should you write about a sport, even if you don’t wanna play in college? so I’ll answer the second part of that question. First. You can definitely write about a sport if you don’t expect to play it in college. Um, if it’s been meaningful to you, if it’s been a, an important part of your growth, um, a really common sort of essay jumping off point that people will use at the end of those kinds of essays is right.
Like going forward. Duh, duh, that I’ve learned about this sport will help me in that is maybe not sports related. And so we see a lot of that. Um, if it’s a sport you’re interested in playing in college, I think again, right. It depends on whether you’re being recruited for it or not. Uh, but certainly if it’s important enough to you that you’re considering playing it at a post high school level, that it’s definitely worth at least taking a good look at potentially writing about it for an.
mm-hmm, , uh, kind of switching gears, but, uh, can a student be well rounded if they mostly talk about their sport and their application? So like in different aspects of their application, like the essays, the activities list, even maybe getting a letter recommendation from a coach, can they still be well rounded?
Absolutely. I think so, but I do think you want to be strategic about how and what you’re talking about in each portion of the application. I think. it’s if you spent any significant time playing on your sport, it’s gonna go in the activities list guaranteed. Right. And as we discuss, that’s sort of the place for your stats, that’s a place for, you know, giving an overall overview of, you know, what you’re doing for your team, that kind of stuff.
Um, in terms of the letter of recommendation portion, that third part, I think it’s really interesting. And definitely you can ask for a letter of recommendation, but I. especially if you’re talking to a coach as opposed to a teacher, because coaches do write letters of breath, but tend to be write less often than your English teacher.
I would talk to them quite a bit beforehand. Even if you waive your right to read the final letter about what you would want them to convey in that letter, that they’re not gonna get from the other parts of your application. So make sure that everybody’s on the same page about it and making sure that.
Uh, your coach is able to speak to also like, just as we’d advised with regular, um, sort of academic letters of rec that your coach is able to speak on more than just your accomplishments, but also your character, your personality, and what you’ve done that might not come across in something like the extracurricular section and right.
And you can coordinate that to make sure that that isn’t overly repetitive or doesn’t like end up being sort of a copy paste. An essay that you’re writing about that sport. Um, though, I will say that, yeah, I you’re gonna have to normally get more than one letter of recommendation and at least one of those is going to be from a teacher.
So you’ll have a little bit more variety in that anyway. And in your activities list, you’ll also have more than hopefully just the one sport you play. So you can get a sense of a candidate profile through all of those things as. mm-hmm , uh, going off of that. Uh, how can you seem well rounded if you have mostly committed to sports and did not have time for other extracurriculars or other extracurriculars necessary?
So I think when we talk about extracurriculars as a whole, um, the phrase that I always use is breath and depth and breath. How many activities are you doing? Right. What’s the scope of that. And depth is how involved are you in those activities? I think the really important thing is that if you’ve spent a lot of time playing sports, the, what you have to show for, it ends up being pretty relevant.
And not just again, in terms of like accolades, although those are, you know, important and nice to put down, but also. , I would, again, really encourage you to think about how are you, how are you taking a step forward as an athlete and using your sport or whatever, extra, like, honestly, in general, whatever extracurricular activity that you’ve been involved in the most to take it a step further, like, what are you doing to help your.
Community to help the people around you to help the program that you’re in. Right. Instead of just sort of participating. I think that like, that’s sort of like the balance, right. Is if you’re gonna have more depth, you have to be more than just a passive participant, right? It is totally okay. In general, right.
We talked about sort of from a leadership role, like you don’t have to be in the captain or like the president. Of the thing that you’re doing, but if you’re gonna sink more hours into something, then you do need to have a little bit more sort of texture and depth to show for it. And that can look very different between, you know, from person to person.
Um, but that’s going to be something that’s important in making sure that it’s clear that you know, all of these hours that you spent doing something, um, are for a purpose or for like sort of multiple purpose. Mm-hmm uh, going off of that, you mentioned that you play two sports in high school. So a student is asking if we play a sport in a high level, should we still join another high school team?
Um, or another sport? So my go to answer is yes, actually. I really think that cross training is good. I think that if you’re playing a sport at a high level, it’s really healthy to sort of get out of your own head and just play a sport for fun, as opposed to like, really you. Feeling a need to play really intensely.
Um, a lot of colleges actually look for two sport athletes because it says that you’re adaptable, that you’re versatile, that you can probably play a position other than the one you were recruited for, which is useful to know. Um, my only caveat is of course, talk that over with the team, the support team of folks that are, uh, you.
Working with you for your main sport. And so make sure that, you know, it’s okay with them that it’s not gonna potentially combine in a way that would like result in injury or just like negative impacts to your form. Like for example, people who play softball and baseball tend not to play golf at the same time.
Although a lot of retired people do because the swing is similar, but different in a way that can like sometimes throw you off. Some people do it and it’s really good. And you know, like, uh, it, it works out for them. Most people that I know who played like baseball or softball tended to play a different sport in the off season.
Um, that was like maybe volleyball or something that would keep you in good shape, uh, that would maybe increase your endurance or other sort of skills that you would be useful. But, um, aren’t as prioritized in softball training, uh, but are not going to be, you know, directly clashing with some of the technique stuff that’s happening there.
But yeah. And of course also evaluate right your own time, your own capacity. Um, how much you feel you’re able to take on, but yeah, especially if it’s for a good reason, like socially wanting to play a sport with your friends or, um, you know, mentally right. Wanting to just sort of try something new. I think that that’s really great and I would highly, highly encourage it.
uh, so another student is asking about how to draw attention, um, to the fact that they maintained high. Um, good grades, took hard classes and played, um, two varsity sports. How can they, uh, show that in their application? Yeah. So I think, you know, one is, they’ll get a pretty good sense of that from seeing your transcript and then also seeing the number of hours that’s put in your extracurricular section.
So they’re aware of that. I would say that if you want to sort of address that in the essay section, making sure that you’re choosing a topic that allows you to talk about what time management looks like and sort of what, uh, what, what my question to you would be. Skills, or what does that say about you as a person that you want colleges to know about right.
Beyond the fact that like you can do a lot of cool things. Right? What specifically about that? Like, why do you want that credit? Or why do you want to be perceived that way by colleges? Why is that important to you? Because it is important. It is important, but figuring out why it’s important to you can help sort of structure, perhaps the essay topics that you.
Or in what context do you want to talk about this beyond sort of just the general facts being laid out between extracurricular sheet and, uh, transcript mm-hmm you can also, um, get letters of recommendation to sort of explain that. So maybe the teachers from your, um, classes that you’re doing well in, they can speak to how you maintained, um, the, your grades and projects in their class, as well as your sports and the way you would do that.
Uh, if the teacher doesn’t already know that you play this sport, um, giving them a brag sheet that explains like your other commitments and stuff, maybe writing a little blurb, um, in an email saying like, oh, I did da, da, da, da in your class while also doing this, that and the other outside of class. And then they can speak to that, um, sort of character in their letter of rec.
Um, yeah, that’s a really good. Uh, going onto the, this should pro this will probably be the final question, but, uh, a students asking if you have many different activities to list on the application, where would you recommend listing sport? Should it be near the top or does it not matter? It’s going to depend on how involved in the sport you were both in terms of number of hours and also in terms of level of commitment.
Right? So for me, um, I did mostly common app schools. So I had like the 10, 10 list, 10, 10 item list of extracurricular activities. Um, the two that I put towards the top were not sports related. Those were the things that were like, um, sort of pre-professional that mattered a lot to me, and like were really difficult in a way that I felt needed to be perceived.
Right. Um, and also pretty big parts of my identity as like a larger person. Um, And then I think sports was right after that, but I ordered it in terms of, yeah, the number of hours that I was putting into the sport, um, how long I had played for and how serious I was about continuing the sport in college.
So not everything was equal. And, um, I think a good example would be that like, I performed much better with like my high school, with my travel softball team than with my high school softball team. Um, my high school softball team was like, not as important to me. And is not as important to recruiting in softball.
Um, and so I like, I love my teammates. I love playing for them. Like, don’t get me wrong. If any of them see this recording, hi, let’s get lunch some time. Right. But like, uh, it wasn’t, it, wasn’t where I felt like I really shined, um, especially cause I was a two sport athlete. And so I was splitting a lot of my time compared to some of the girls who like really, really, um, were super, super committed to that program.
And for whom like that was their main sort of social source of like. Friends and, um, time and commitment and things like that. So I was like, sort of mindful about how I would order that based on, uh, based on my own sort of personal experience there. Um, so I would say the same thing for like, right. You.
And of course, if you’re talking about an essay, I’d put it up a little bit higher, but if sports are just, you know, simply a thing you really like doing, but like are not where you’re spending your most of your time and energy. Um, then it doesn’t have to go near the top for sure. Um, if it’s just sort of, especially like your school’s, I think the big thing too, is like, if you’re playing for your high school and your school’s program is not necessarily super competitive, um, or intent that’s totally.
Okay. But you keep that in mind when you’re, when you’re ordering things. mm-hmm and yes, the order and rank on the activities list does matter. Um, for the common app, you get up to 10 activities, coalition app, you get up to eight. Um, you seize, I can’t wait 20. Oh, wow. Okay. But that also includes awards in order, so it’s like a little bit of a difference.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Um, See. Yeah. Um, and so check out our other webinars on, um, more specifics on activities list and award list. Um, but so that is the end of the webinar. We had a great time telling you about, um, writing about sports as a student athlete. Thank you to our wonderful presenter, um, for all this great information and, um, Thank you everyone for coming out tonight.
Here’s the rest of our September series, where we’ll have different webinars on various school panels, as well as different, um, essay topics, um, and things to write about in your application to make it stronger. Um, so you can check that out at app.CollegeAdvisor.com/webinars, um, to find those recordings.
And you can also find all of our other recordings, um, by just typing in the keywords for the topic that you are looking for. So thank you everyone for coming out tonight and good night.