High School Baseball Players Heading to College: Understand the Academic Importance
by David Petersam, President of AdmissionsConsultants
Getting into the college of your choice involves countless steps and decisions, such as studying for the next chemistry test or taking an SAT prep test. Every day of your high school life presents you with opportunities to improve your chances of entering the schools on your target list
While athletic ability is an important part of the college admissions process for the high-school athlete, it will mean little without the academic strength to back it up. Your academic record is based on your grade-point average, your course selection, with Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes carrying more weight, and your SAT or ACT scores.
First and foremost, you’ll want to make sure that you are on track to earn an Advanced Studies Diploma or qualify for Advanced Placement courses. This will ensure that your coursework will meet most college admissions requirements for English, math, foreign language, science, history and electives. Your class selection should include as many Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes as you can handle. The additional work will be worth the rewards. College admissions officers would rather see a “B” in AP chemistry than an “A” in regular chemistry. They know that succeeding in these classes is a good predictor of how you will perform in college.
Your job is to earn the very best grades you can. You will need every “A” you can get. Not only do top-tier colleges and universities face an avalanche of applicants, many schools once havens for B-average or below students have revised admissions requirements.
If your grades don’t pass muster, now is the time to take an inventory of the tools you need to use to get ahead. If certain subjects are hurting your GPA, and more study time is not raising your scores, it may be time to get a tutor or other special assistance to address learning disabilities. The most important message here is to identify the challenges you face and to develop strategies, both personally and with your school, to overcome the roadblocks to academic success.
Outside of coursework and grades, your scores on standardized tests, either the SAT or the ACT, will affect your chances for college admission. In your junior year, you can take SAT and ACT preparation courses and practice tests. This will give you an idea of what you need to concentrate on to boost your scores when you take the official version of these tests in the fall of your senior year.
Your college admission planning will need to include answering the question of which or both of these tests to take. Once, SAT v. ACT was more of a geographic question. Now, many formerly SAT-only colleges and universities are accepting ACT scores.
It’s a matter likely to be better answered on a personal level. Nationally, average scores for SAT hovered from the high 400s to the low 500s. For the ACT, last year’s average score was 21. Your quest for college admission will include learning – probably by heart – what your target schools require.
Remember, though, that in the end, colleges are looking at the whole student. Grade-point-averages, SAT and ACT scores, your athletic abilities – these are the major pieces of the puzzle. Yet, the fact that one summer you organized t-ball games for disadvantaged tots, or demonstrated compassion and leadership in some other way, will never cease to be the icing on the cake that admissions officers just love to eat!
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