It can mean something or nothing, depending on the coach and where you are on his/her list of candidates. Think as follows:
Coach: I'd like these 10 kids.
Admissions: We'll bend for 15 for all sports combined...you get two.
Coach: I'll take #3 and #7.
There are so many variations that to get a better answer you'd specifically need a reply from someone with experience in athletics admissions at Vassar, who knows how a file was handled, not just guesses.
Otherwise you'll just get enough opinions to drive yourself crazy.
I am really glad you asked that question, as I feel it is certainly something that needs to be addressed. I wish I had someone to ask the same question to before applying. Let me begin by saying what an amazing school I found Vassar to be and what amazing people study there. I liked Vassar enough to apply ED 1, with very little regard for athletics, although I was VERY impressed by the coaching staff and similarly impressed by the student athletes. However, I am not sure if the people in power at Vassar are necessarily ready to make the transition from what Vassar has traditionally been known for (read previous discussions) to a school that puts any real amount of emphasis on athletics. Now, whether that is a good or bad thing, is up for the prospective student to decide. I know that other LAC's, some more highly regarded than Vassar, have been successful in attracting athletes while maintaining a strong academic reputation. Williams is notorious for this, as well as the Ivies. Also, Wesleyan, a school with a student body more similar to that of Vassar, has also managed to compete well in the Nescac and I know they will accept a certain number of athletes who may not have otherwise gained acceptance. To me, part of the problem may be Vassar's athletic league. The Ivies (Harvard, Yale etc.) and Nescac (Williams, Amherst etc.)are both comprised of schools with similar academic standards, who now play each other in sports almost daily and these schools naturally want to be better than their competitors in every single aspect, driving them to recruit for the better athletes. Vassar's league- the Liberty League or UCAA- does not really offer the opportunity to compete athletically with similar schools on a regular basis and schools like Clarkson and RPI usually dominate. While this alone is definitely not a reason, I don't think it can help.
For whatever the reason, I wanted to believe that Vassar was starting to place similar emphasis on athletics as many of their counterparts. I was asked to visit Vassar this fall by my respective coach and felt as if I had the necessary indications while visiting and following my visit that support from the coach would be enough to possibly gain me admission. I understood that my 3.4 and 1340 would not make me a strong candidate without sports, but I have friends who got into the previously mentioned schools with way lower numbers than mine. Needless to say, I was pretty surprised when I was not even deferred. If I had known then what I know now, I probably would not have used my early decision to Vassar. However, I can not hold Vassar accountable because it is their choice what sort of focus they want to put on athletics. But, if this is the case, I think admissions owes it to the coaches and to the students to better communicate. That way, when students hear "your application is supported at Vassar", they do not take it to mean more than it actually does.
Lastly, this was MY personal experience and you may very well be closer to regular admission standards than I was, in which case an extra letter of rec. from a coach would only help.
Good luck! While I don't necessarily agree with the way Vassar handles their admissions, I really do think it is a great school and am envious of anyone who gets to go there.
I think my stats are around the RD range, and my swim coach already wrote an extra rec. and spoke with Vassar's coach as well- hopefully, I have a shot. I did my best on the extra essay and "Your Space" submission, so now, I plan to just let go of all these mindboggling questions (thanks TheDad) and wait until spring!
Thanks for your advice, wildcatdude! Best of luck, I know you will find a place where you will be just as happy!
the thing is that, a few colleges don't reserve spots for athletes. Private, D3 liberal arts colleges are usually one of these.
I spoke with a few other college soccer coaches about this and here is what they said.
most colleges have a ranking system which they code athletes with. this depends on the college. a 1 would be an athlete which would have an immediate impact (team sports), 2 would be an eventual helper after a year or two. 3 would be a possible, but not a guarantee. 4 would be a yeah right, and 5 is a laugh. other schools might have a 4 point system, combining 4 and 5.
If vassar keeps spots specifically for athletes, then the coach could say, I want these no matter what and they will get accepted. I do not know their policy.
I am a men's soccer recruit. I will post again when I recieve their decision