2021 recruit

I have read so may great forums on this, but still a little unsure of where my D stands.

She is a top recruit for two DIII schools, both with high admissions requirements, one TO (NESCAC) and one is not. Her grades are great, her SAT is way below standard and planned to take the ACT in April (with A LOT of tutoring,) that is now up in the air. And doubtful she could increase her score enough; great student, just not a good test taker.

She is also a top recruit for some lower DI and DIII schools and a top NAIA school, with lower academic requirements.

Her top two choices are the two DIII schools. Both competitive programs. She has had phone calls with both, weekly emails. And they have both listed her as a top recruit. Test required school head coach even sent a hand written note with all caps emphasis on wanting her as a 2021 recruit.

She attends a private school with an excellent reputation for rigorous academics and athletics nationally. She has submitted her junior year transcripts so far and her class schedule for next year and received positive feedback. Its just that darn ACT. Example the school requires 31-34 ish and she’ll score in the 20’s even with the tutor.

My D19 had a similar situation with recruiting: great grades, mediocre SAT. She is currently a DI athlete who received a substantial athletic scholarship even though her SAT’s were below average.

Question: On these top DIII academic and athletic programs, how much wiggle room does the coach have with admissions? Will they have any influence? Can an above average athlete with great grades and mediocre ACT results still get in?

Thank you for any insight!

I’d ask the coaches about this. Some have more wiggle room than others, but they’re each going to know how best to handle this at their school and should know how much it will matter. They might advise simply not submitting scores. Keep in mind quite a few schools are moving to test optional this year anyway, given circumstances. However coaches advise to proceed, before committing I’d make sure your daughter is very clear on the level of support a coach is providing with admissions and what that has meant for recruits with similar records in the past. Most of these schools do an admissions pre read in the summer that will give you some clarity also.

I have a 2021 as well, so just going through the process, more experienced posters will probably have better advice!

I believe most coaches have an idea of what will pass muster with the Admissions Office, and so will not submit any candidates they feel aren’t close to that school’s standards. They get a certain number of prereads so don’t want to waste a spot (even for a preread) on a kid they are pretty sure is an academic nonstarter.

So, first thing – do the coaches have all your daughter’s academic info (unofficial transcript, grades this year so far etc)?

Then, have they offered her a preread? NESCACs start prereads on July 1, but they can let a player know that they are offering a preread now. (Some schools may be on a faster timeline, some slower, but NESCACs are offering prereads now, at least in my son’s sport). If your daughter gets a preread, that is really good information to have, it confirms she is in fact one of the top recruits. (My son was told he was a “top recruit” too, but when he pressed the coach as to whether the coach would be offering a preread he got the answer that due to the COVID uncertainty the coach wasn’t deciding who was getting a preread until July. That may or may not (more likely) be true; but it is good info to have. It tells my son he is in fact not one of the top 10 or 20 recruits the coach is considering).

If the player passes the preread with the Admissions office, AND is made an offer from the coach, then it is extremely likely your daughter will be admitted. From the pool of kids the AO has approved, the coach can pick his top recruits, and those given spots generally are admitted. So yes, once the AO has weighed in, then the coach’s support makes a great deal of difference. But make sure the coach is offering a spot, and not offering soft support.

As for the ACT, given that so many schools have gone TO, for the TO school your daughter just wouldn’t submit the score. For the school that still requires board scores you’ll have to ask the coach what to do in that case. I.e. “Coach, I took the ACT to get a benchmark at the end of sophomore year, expecting to practice and retake it, but all the tests are cancelled this Spring, if I can’t take it again, what should I do/what’s the effect on my recruiting”

Do you have access to Naviance? If you look at scattergrams you can see some outliers, kids with surprisingly low gpas or test scores getting into schools like Williams or Harvard (schools with low admit rates). Those might be recruited athletes.

Finally, you may not need this caution, but others might – just because a coach is an excellent recruiter and comes on really strong, it does not necessarily mean that your player is in the top 5 recruits, unless the coach actually says that. Saying “you are a top recruit” can mean you are, or can mean you are one of 50 and the coach is just one of those that comes on strong. My son’s experienced both kinds of coaches, and a quiet coach, one who doesn’t send handwritten letters or be in close touch can actually be one where your student is at the top of his list. And, unfortunately, the reverse is true too – a really enthusiastic coach can have your student not at the top of their list. At this point, in my opinion, it isn’t a bad thing to push coaches for more clarity so your player knows where they stand.

Thank you so much for replies. Definitely helps. I went back through the TO coach emails. She has sent two transcripts and his feedback on latest one was:

“Your curriculum and performance are very impressive and I would love to schedule a phone call with you to learn more about your recruiting process, answer any questions you have…” This was after watching her at a tournament in February.

Since then they have spoken on the phone and continue to email. Of course, he was hoping to have her visit this spring, but circumstances.

The other school had an official visit scheduled, but was canceled due to the pandemic.

So maybe send an email with the latest transcript this week and ask if he is gong to do pre reads on her?

I would continue updating all the coaches and try to get clarity on: the recruiting process and timeline (what are the various steps, in terms of visits, pre reads, etc, and when will the coach decide which athletes to support) and how that interacts with admissions at each school (can the coach influence admissions with slots or some other kind of support, how meaningful is that support, is ED required for support, etc.).

Usually just a simple question about how the recruiting process works will get at all those; coaches are pretty good at explaining everything. So, your daughter might already know all those answers but with visits being changed or postponed I’d have her chat with the coaches about their plans (will visits be in the fall, are they planning zoom meetings with recruits…). She should be able to work most of her questions into follow ups based on what the coach says and, as mentioned above, just ask about the test issue as part of that discussion.

Completely agree with last paragraph of @cinnamon1212 comment above. The biggest mistake I see with recruits is they confuse ‘we’d love to have you’ with ‘we will use our limited resources (slots or other support) with admissions to help get you admitted’.

You’ve received sound advice from @cinnamon1212 and @politeperson. My DD21 has a very similar situation. She’s been told that she’s a top recruit for Div 1’s and already received a couple of solid offers. She has the grades and course rigor but she didn’t do well on her SAT last October and planned to retake them and her first ACT in the spring which of course all got cancelled. She reached out to the coaches and many have spoken to Admissions. Some highly selective schools are offering to do pre reads excluding test scores. Please look into this with the colleges your child is interested in. Many students are in the same dilemma, some haven’t even taken one standardized test yet. Cornell is the first ivy to go TO which puts pressure on the other ivies and top tiered schools. There are recent op ed articles in the Stanford and Penn newspapers about how they should also consider going TO…
Div 3 schools might have less flexibility. It doesn’t hurt to inquire though.

It is my understanding that Cornell did go test optional for admissions, but not for athletes, as they must following the NCAA rules and all Division 1 schools for the Class of 2025 still require either the ACT or SAT.

Ask the coach.

Tell the coach that she’s not the best test taker, and would prefer to not take the ACT. See what he says about that. Don’t be surprised if he says something about this is all new to him and he is still feeling things out. With almost everyone going TO, I like her chances if she is a top recruit.

The NESCAC bands were made a long time ago, and they do not apply the same way across the board at all the schools. Generally, to be an A band recruit, which allows the coach to use lesser support (a tip), the general rule is 700 per SAT subsection. A B band recruit (probably requiring a slot) is 650 each subsection. At a Williams or an Amherst, I think it would be tough to get in with a 29 or less ACT (this is entirely anecdotal, based on coach conversations), but, you should have that conversation with the coach. Of course, this is all pre-Covid.

Our experience so far is that we got 1 pre-read with my D21’s Grade 9,10, 11 Mid year grades including her SAT score. Luckily she was able to take the SAT before the cancellations. We were actually expecting that she’d be ask to re-take as the score is just slightly below the 25th percentile.

Coach told us that AO gave D a Go Signal and asked us to submit Final Grade 11 grades as soon as they’re available. Perhaps AO knows it will be hard to get a retake or we’d like to believe that her overall Grades (not just the SAT score) are really within acceptable range. He also mentioned that our D is one of the top candidates he is considering but stopped short of giving more details. He must still be looking at his options at the moment (how to use his limited slots, etc.) before he makes a final decision - we did not really ask for more details and prefer to give him more time. Or should we?

Another coach has also offered us a pre-read but has not gotten back to us. Perhaps he’ll do it in July with Final Grades? The other coach also just told us that D is within the academic and athletic range that the school is looking for and that she is one of the top choices - but again no commitments yet. Then a fourth one - lines of communication are still open with the coach after video call, linking my daughter to current fencers to chat and stuff.

Also, from comments above we need to be pragmatic when coach says “you are my top choice” as it could mean so many things. We need to wait until there is a concrete offer and AO has given the final acceptance letter.

Our D has ranked her school preference so we’ll see how the whole process unfolds given the unprecedented impact of this pandemic to everyone.

Thank you SO much for the sound advice. I requested her latest transcript from her counselor and asked if he has access to Naviance for data. She also emailed a DI school that is lower on her list some firm questions to gauge the response.

At this point I think her chances are better at the TO school and will wait on submitting any test information to the other DIII school just in case something changes. She did send an email today asking that school what information she can provide now that will help them in the process.

This pandemic has really turned everything upside down. Just hoping schools reopen this fall.

I do believe that ACT now offers testing over the summer – but who knows what that means. I do have one thought on less than perfect standardized test takers. Have her take a practice test that you proctor. Then grade it yourself. When I did this, I was shocked that the problem jumped out. Mine did not finish any section of the ACT. Not finishing has a huge negative effect on the score. With practice, you can increase speed. Then at least you know what needs to be worked on.


The highly selective school, ACT/SAT required just emailed letting my D21 know they are planning to move their offer timeline up from the normal mid July time frame and for her to be prepared. I think that pretty must confirms she will get an offer.

They are asking for any test scores that she has. The only one she took was the SAT in October as a baseline, no prep and it was LOW. She had a tutor for the ACT in April that is now rescheduled to June.

Do we postpone submitting any test scores until after the ACT in June? Meaning her LOW SAT and the PSAT/ACT (also dismal scores) and just cross our fingers it goes test optional?

Honestly, if we submitted now this school wouldn’t be an option and we aren’t quite ready to wave the white flag.

And she is taking a practice ACT test on Sunday to see where she is after the tutoring.

Couldn’t she let the coach know that she was signed up to take the ACT in April and is now signed up for the June test. She hopes it doesn’t get postponed, as she has been prepping. If she feels okay with her Sunday practice test - she could also include her score on the practice test as an FYI.

pShe could also submit her SAT and let him know that she is prepping for ACT, as the SAT just wasn’t a good fit. Up to you, as how much of your hand you want to show and if the school has a policy that all scores must be submitted with her app.

What dose actually mean “pre-read”? My son has been asked to send transcripts, but never heard of things involving AO. Does it mean he has not been offered a pre-read? Thanks.

In our experience, pre-read means the coach is walking over transcript and test score to the admission’s rep for a check. Many coaches ask for this info and I think (and could be wrong) that they know enough of what would and wouldn’t pass through admissions that they wait on that step.

My child had 1 ivy say no unofficial visit without aa admission’s pre-read and this was a new policy and 3 other ivy/top in sport met with the submitted transcript and test score without ever mentioning the term pre-read.

@ningve Our understanding of “pre-read” is when college coaches approach the Admissions Office (AO) with your child’s grades and Test score (SAT/ ACT) whether you are admissible by their school’s standards. If AO gives a Go signal it means he can include you in his shortlist or means he can offer you a slot on his team and support you in the admissions process. All coaches that responded back to us immediately asked for transcripts and test scores.

From our experience so far and agree with @coffeeat3 , once Coach receives the Grades and Test scores they would fairly have an idea even before they send it for pre-read. In our case, one coach told us that my D’s Test score is slightly below than what he’d like to see but did not explicitly ask us to re-take.

For the OP, I would just be honest with the coach: the early score was intended as a practice test and your daughter didn’t intend to submit but was planning to test this spring or summer; ask what the coach suggests, submit or not. Honestly, if the coach wants an athlete, she’ll know the best way to get that athlete through admissions. If it isn’t going to happen without a better test score, you’re better off knowing that now and working with the coach.

As for the question above about pre reads, I think it’s been answered but I’d just add that this can vary a lot by school, program, coach. So even though the general info is good to know, I’d pay close attention to what the coach says. And certainly before committing I’d want to know that the admissions office had looked at the file (and at a place where coaches have limited slots I’d be shocked if a coach didn’t perform all the due diligence she can with admissions). Ivies can’t start pre reads until July 1 but other leagues and schools have different timelines.

I’m following this thread as well because we’re going through it with my D’21 right now. She submitted her first pre-read today and didn’t submit testing because hers was lower than she wanted and she had been doing tutoring and had planned for the March test. The school is now TO so I’m hoping it doesn’t matter if she has the testing or not. Coach knows what her testing is and said it’s fine but my DD wants to wait and see if she can retest in summer.

The remaining pre-reads are going to be June/July I think. Does anyone know if she may need to commit to the May pre-read school before knowing about other pre-reads? Do coaches often get a positive answer from admissions and then make offers? The school she submitted to today was likely her second choice but still a great option - so I wouldn’t want her to pass it up. But then again, she could have an opportunity for another school she prefers slightly.

How does that work? Can she go to the other school and feel out their level of interest if she gets an offer from school A? Should she already be asking the coaches where she stands on their list? Her top choice is a quieter coach who has spoken to my daughter and indicated that she’s on their list and has told her club as well but she’s not an effusive person so it’s not like DD gets daily texts with exclamation points like she does from some other coaches.