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Sports essays by athletes

momochanmomochan Registered User Posts: 45 Junior Member
edited November 2011 in Athletic Recruits
2013 son is being heavily recruited for his sport by a number of high academic DI schools including a couple of Ivies. He's had friends recruited to play at large public U's who did not even have to WRITE an essay or send recommendations! However, this is not going to be his situation based on the schools he's targeting. I am already thinking about application essays because with his older brother, we found that senior year is sooo much nicer and more pleasant without the need to nag constantly about working on college essays (they were largely done in August). The problem is that I've heard that recruited athletes should NEVER write about their sport, but for the life of me I can't think what else my kid cares enough about to spend time writing about it! He spends every free moment either studying (4APs this year) or working out/working on getting better for his sport (well, and hanging out with friends but I don't think that's an essay topic...is it?) As I've stated to my husband, I sure hope he stays healthy because he has put ALL his eggs into one very specific basket...he has many athletic and academic honors but virtually nothing else on his resume. We've had a couple of short discussions about his essay and he insists that it wouldn't be a big deal if he wrote about his sport since it would be obvious that that is what he spends most of his time on. I would love to hear what you all think. Also, does anyone have magical suggestions on how your kiddo came up with ideas?
Post edited by momochan on

Replies to: Sports essays by athletes

  • momochanmomochan Registered User Posts: 45 Junior Member
    Just found a previous post with lots of good info
    but would love any additional insights :)
  • PureVisionPureVision Registered User Posts: 39 Junior Member
    The sports metaphor/essays are highly overdone and admissions at the Ivies love to see other dimensions of the individual.

    Some options though are to answer the common app with an event or experience - it's doesn't have to be exclusively about the sport.

    Another option is the question about someone who has had an impact on you. There are a number of ways for your son's voice to come through and an opportunity for him to tell a story or be self reflective.

    In my opinion the only area where it's ok to do something basic (somewhat) about the sport is in the common app short answer.

    Otherwise, to maximize his chances the other essays should talk about something non-related or if you choose to use sports, or partly (ie significant person, or a specific experience and not some overused metaphor).
  • fogfogfogfog Registered User Posts: 4,056 Senior Member
    This topic was batted around alot in the last 18 months--I am not sure which thread it appears in--you might search in this forum for essay topic etc...
    I did find this thread as well.


    There are several greats books about how to write a killer essay. The one by Bauld
    On Writing the College Application Essay: The Key to Acceptance and the College of your Choice
    is a classic
  • stemitstemit Registered User Posts: 575 Member
    I disagree that the essay needs to be anything more than a piece that tells the reader about the writer. And for the recruited athlete can be about their sport and its importance in his/her life.

    Start from these facts: (1) the student is being recruited by a coach who has seen transcripts , scores and athletic prowess. The coach has a very good feel for what is needed by admissions. The coach has not seen nor asked about the ESSAY. (2) The essay is way way down the things that admissions weigh in evaluating a student who has not been recruited. Academics stand alone at the top of the heap (grade, rigour, scores). Then comes ECs, recs, and essays - in no real order. (3) The coach has not asked about the ECs, recs, and essays; yet makes his/her offer. The coach requests that the player apply. (4) The player completes the application. (5) A special admissions committee - set up for athletic recruits - assesses the application - and the issues the likely letter.

    At no point did the coach EVER express or imply to my S to do anything more then do a workmanlike job on the app. Now, during the process we were as paranoid as most parents (after all, who walks the last mile of the marathon?). We quizzed him after the OVs about the application - and specifically the essays. He said - and we didn't really believe it - that the players told him they did "average" essays. I thought he did an "average" job - and he wrote about life metophorically using his sport.

    While we sweated the LL, he regularly spoke with the coach during the 3 week period between submission and issue of the LL.

    I understand the paranoia of the parents - gosh the entire process encourages paranoia. My opinion is based upon a player recruited in a sport and for a slot where a LL will be issued. If there will be no LL issued, then the essay better be at least equal to the typical student. For the highly recruited athlete, the way they got to that level was to devote EVERYTHING to their sport. They don't need to be be "supermen" - perfection in all areas is not expected. Just MHO.
  • PureVisionPureVision Registered User Posts: 39 Junior Member
    @stemit: Of course you can get in with an average essay. Many/maybe most, of the athletes do.

    The coach only cares about your transcripts and standardized testing scores for admissibility sake.

    But your point does not mean that it is not better to show a different dimension than discussing the sport.

    If there is something "more" to the essay but it includes the sport that's fine, but I think the worry here is that most essays on sports will fall into the same cookie cutter types that admissions are so used to seeing. But sure, even with one of those when you are a recruit with good scores and a good transcript you can still get in.

    Make sense?
  • crunchyfrogcrunchyfrog Registered User Posts: 24 New Member
    My essay was written purely on my sport, because like your son, it's pretty much the only activity in my life besides spending time with friends and doing copious amounts of homework. It worked just fine.
  • stemitstemit Registered User Posts: 575 Member
    The goal is admission - nothing more. You don't get a gold star or a bump in your GPA for anything other then admission. The fact is that the recruited athlete's essay is not even read in the same admission pool as regular students. It is read by a committee set up especially to review athletic applications. Since these generally occur in September, and the other applications are only read after the close of admission deadlines, it is clear that the athletes are not considered as "one of the admission pools.". A crappy essay may eliminate the athlete. An average essay won't. An essay that allows the reader to "get to know" the athlete is just fine. I'm not saying that doing more is bad; I'm saying be youself and genuine and realize that you are being recruited because the institution (through the coach) believes you will be an asset to the school. The athlete has already shown that - that's why they got recruited - the regular applicant needs to demonstrate that to the admissions officers. Again, I limit my opinion to those athletes who the coach wants to give an LL - not a "tip" or something similar.
  • fogfogfogfog Registered User Posts: 4,056 Senior Member
    FWIW, our student wrote stellar essays. Really crsip tight ones and none of them included the sport.

    Also, kiddo had a fully completed common app, all supplements and all essays completed for about 8 schools before OVs.

    Reason: If the OVs didn't bring a LL (since coaches bring in 3 times as many recruits as slots), we wanted the apps done while kiddo was feeling good/confident in early fall. We didn't want to see kiddo tackling apps and essays during Nov.Dec.
    because of this, those essays had to be stellar for all schools, kiddo wasn't going to take the chance of doing a half-way job.
  • stemitstemit Registered User Posts: 575 Member
    Wow, I tip my cap to you and your player fog! For us, he was going to submit a single application to the school who he decided as the best place to play (we had already decided on the schools who were in that set). Schools don't offer a single slot for every three OVs. What really happens is that players have multiple offers; which is why the school brings in more applicants then slots.
  • riverrunnerriverrunner Registered User Posts: 2,715 Senior Member
    Essays: Since Common App has two at least, I think there's an obvious choice to do the Activity 1000 Character max essay about the sport. The Personal Statement essay (250-500 words) is probably going to be about something else. I don't know many athletes who have an "activity" they want to write about besides their sport.

    Athletes can and do use the longer essay to profile themselves outside the stereotypical hardworking, competitive, bounce-back-from-adversity characterization that seems to be part of most athletic activity essays.
  • PureVisionPureVision Registered User Posts: 39 Junior Member
    I agree with Stemit and riverrunner - it depends what your perspective is.
  • fogfogfogfog Registered User Posts: 4,056 Senior Member
    It really isn't too hard to have apps ready. Since the Common App essays need to be done, and the supplements--
    If you organize and work smart--select topics carefully--A student can craft many apps pretty easily. The quality essays were just too important --
    and since the coaches had told kiddo over the summer 700+s across the board etc etc and kiddo had a green light in July--we knew that it was important to do a quality job and kiddo didn't want anything to bring a shadow of doubt.

    it was worth it to have this sewed up early/mid Oct
  • 3xboys3xboys Registered User Posts: 319 Member
    I think the most important thing is for the student to make the Personal statement very personal. It doesn't matter what they write about as long as they write well, reveal themselves in the process and that their passion for the topic shines through.
  • momofrowermomofrower Registered User Posts: 139 Junior Member
    My son was recruited to row for an Ivy. His long essay was on his sport and he used it to reveal things about himself, e.g. that rowing is a true "team" sport, if anyone tries to row faster than the others the boat would go in a circle, etc., and how this was a good match for his personality. He also evoked the feeling of being out on a lake at 4 am with your team mates to practice and what that was like- the darkness, sounds, smells, etc. I think he did a good job avoiding the common cliches of overcoming adversity,etc.

    I think that for many athletes the best thing is to write about their sport- that is where their passion is and it will show.
  • 7Steps7Steps Registered User Posts: 149 Junior Member
    Question: I'm going in as a baseball recruit and have written my long Common App essay on my experiences with the sport. I've been reading the posts that speak about not writing about overcoming adversity but that theme is the foundation of my essay. To be honest, I have kind of a unique situation and I was wondering if it would be okay for me to still do my essay about the challenges I faced while playing baseball. I've gotten cut from over 14 teams in my life, didn't make the high school team, but still kept the passion and drive alive in order to end up getting 6 college offers and a 85 mph fastball. Nothing else in my life has shaped my personality and outlook on life more than my tumultuous journey through baseball. I talk a lot about the troubles I faced over the past few years while continuing to play the sport and was hoping that the admissions office would look upon it positively. I'm sorry if I sound whiny, but is it okay in my particular situation to still write about baseball given my circumstances?
This discussion has been closed.