In the past few years, college has become harder to get into than ever before. Acceptance rates are decreasing, and colleges are growing more selective each year. The applicant pools are more competitive than ever: at selective schools, all of the applying students have a plethora of academic achievements. A 4.0 GPA and High Honor Roll are impressive feats, but when all the applicants have similar accomplishments, it is hard to stand out. As a result, extracurriculars, like sports, play a powerful role in getting into college.
Students that have been committed to a sport possess many strong character traits. Student athletes must have good time management skills in order to balance their school work and sport. They also must have great communication and leadership skills. Having these strengths help the personality development of an athlete. Student athletes also have to learn from their failures. Losing games teaches lessons and encourages toughness to high schoolers. All of these attributes are certainly characteristics of a student that any college would like to have on campus.
Extremely talented high schools athletes can be given special treatment when it comes to the application process. They can be provided scholarships, recruited, or even accepted because of their athletic achievements. A student who fits this description is Ashley Blaka. She is only a sophomore and has recently verbally committed to play Division I Soccer at Dartmouth upon graduating from RHS.
“Colleges are definitely uneasy about recruiting younger players lacking test scores and other criteria,” Blaka stated. “But I have an advantage coming to Ridgewood High School compared to other high school athletes. I think good colleges trust the education I am receiving here.”
Despite her age, Blaka impressed college coaches with her skills, both athletically and characteristically. The recruiting process takes a lot of time and commitment: Blaka has spent a lot of time travelling around the country with her team.
“I enjoyed the process because I love soccer,” Blaka explained. “So it did not really feel like any extra work for me. Getting recruited by colleges for my sport has proven that doing what you love can benefit you in every aspect of your life, including academics.”
As aforementioned, athletes learn abilities they will need later in life which can flourish in many other ways. While sports can give applicants an edge in applying, playing sports is definitely not a mandatory extracurricular to get into college. Sports may help some students get recruited to a college they may not be able to get into otherwise, but in most situations, playing sports is just a great opportunity to learn, compete, and have fun, while simultaneously being a great activity to have a resume.
Graphic: Sofia Lee