Applying to Ivy after athletic commitment

Hello all,
Theoretical situation for my daughter. Class of 2022.

She is excellent student. >1500 SAT, 4.0, AP, etc.

She is in process of to committing to a D1 school (non Ivy) for a sport she has played since she was little. D1 school is somewhat competitive in her sport but not at Ivy league level.

She recently stated that she would like to apply to Ivy League as she has interest in certain programs. (Also realizing she might not make team at Ivy even as a walk on). And her grades and SAT may not be enough to get in either

Issue I have is if she commits to play at d1 non Ivy, and then goes through application process for Ivy, how does that look? What are issues or repercussions if she chooses academic route vs the committed athletic route.

First time going through this…

She is not committed until she signs the NLI, usually in November.

She should be honest with the coach who is recruiting her and tell that coach she wants to try for an Ivy but is still very interested in that school. Coaches know that the odds for an Ivy admit, without athletic help, are not good. The coach may hold a spot for her to commit in the spring if she doesn’t get into the Ivy, but may not. Many coaches only hold the scholarship until the early signing deadline or early decision date.


Does the DI athletic school have ED? If so, will the coach require your D to apply that round (which is not uncommon)?

If not, she won’t be committed until she signs the NLI, as stated above. I also encourage her to be honest with the coach if an Ivy is her first choice school.


It strikes me as a good sign that she’s beginning to consider that factors other than athletics might be more important to a college choice. Are the programs she’s interested in only available in the Ivy League?

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Thank you. I agree, she does realize the value of education and is self driven.

She is interested in engineering, most likely mechanical engineering. But has interest in some of the ivies and other high academic schools.

Ideally (to her) she would have matched athletically and academically with one of those ivies, however they filled their roster spots and was told she could walk on if she gets into the school.

Not sure on ED being a requirement but I had heard of that before.

We are meeting with HC in person this week on campus so it’s is a topic of conversation for sure. If my daughter tells her she is focused on academics and also wants to apply to Ivy, I wouldn’t be surprised if HC moved on to next on her list.

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I’m wondering if it might be worth looking at Ivy+ and near-Ivy schools that play Division III but where the academics are still first rate. Examples of such schools with mechanical engineering majors might be Tufts, Union College, Rochester, and RPI. Outside the Ivy League region, schools like Johns Hopkins, Case Western Reserve, Washington University/St Louis, Carnegie-Mellon, and U of Chicago. Even smaller-than-the-Ivies Div I schools with excellent academics might be worth exploring like Lafayette, Bucknell, and Lehigh.


Presumably the school your daughter is being recruited by is an academically selective school? If so, I personally would think long and hard about throwing away basically guaranteed admission to a school like, say, Duke, or Georgetown for the chance to apply to a school where the odds of admission are less than 5%!!


Thank you all for the replies. Great info.

She is looking/talking with D3, and has actually had offers for D3 roster spots, but challenge with d3 is that many of the higher tier academics don’t offer much in way of merit aid (Tufts for ex) and we don’t seem to qualify for needs-based based on their financial aid calculators.

Additionally, some d3 engineering programs don’t seem to be ABET accredited (Washington & Lee for example), which makes me wonder if right for her but otherwise W&L does offer merit.

I like balance of academics and athletics of D3 vs D1.

RPI is and has been a lacrosse and academic option, where the academics are much much more highly regarded than the lacrosse.

The patriot league I thought would be a good fit. BU, Lafayette, Lehigh for sure. Bucknell has full roster based on discussion. Lehigh as well. Which is too bad considering I think Lehigh would have been a near perfect fit.

Fairfield could be option as well.

Without getting into too much detail, she would take a spot at those PL teams if offered. I think. Been discussions but no offer at those and BU and Lafayette are only two with roster spots still available. Considered walk on for Lehigh.

The current discussion is for an OK academic school and OK level lacrosse in Big South conference. She would most likely get significant merit aid in addition to some athletic aid to point of near tuition free.

Is she being asked to commit right now, and what benefit is she being offered for doing so ($, admissions support, etc.)? If there’s the possibility of doing official visits this fall, I’d probably wait until after those if possible to delay. But if there’s significant scholarship money or admissions support at a selective school, as mentioned above, I’d think long and hard about whether potentially foregoing that is worth the risk. I agree she should be honest with the coach either way (In fact, there’s a pretty good chance the coach would find out anyway). She should also think hard about whether an Ivy would be much better academically.

Sometimes it’s helpful in these cases to look at the “worst” case scenario, which for many athletes is giving up the sport (or playing club) and attending the state flagship. If that sounds okay academically, socially, and financially, then taking some risks in athletic recruiting isn’t such a big deal.

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Getting into an Ivy these days is like winning the lottery. An example is a kid I know with 4.0, 36 ACT, and good APs and ECs, who was rejected/wait listed from Stanford and 3 Ivies, at one of which she was a legacy. That was in 2020 and applications have spiked since then, making it even harder to get an Ivy admission.

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If aid matters then Ivies might not work for your family, even if she’s admitted. I’d check the NPCs for that.

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From a lacrosse perspective, it has been impossible with covid shutdowns to be in front of D1 coaches. The NCAA didn’t allow d1 coaches to see any 2022 athlete in person after winter 2019. They are only allowed to visit or see in person as of June 1, 2021. Some d1 coaches and players signed without seeing in person. Typically very top level players though at very top level schools. That is their call. My daughter and I both view this as not a next 4 years type of decision but rather a next 40 years type of decision.

my daughter hasn’t been recruited by schools like Georgetown but could consider them as a purely academic choice. Even if she had, Georgetown doesn’t offer merit aid and limited athletic aid (they split 9 athletic scholarships across 35 kids). Which is too bad as my dad went there.

Thank you for replies

How would you afford an Ivy if that wish came true since there’s no merit there either?

So it doesn’t sound like she’s an impact d1 player at most schools (or she’d have offers by now, I would guess). Therefore what are her chances of getting a d1 scholarship? I know men’s soccer recruiting, not women’s lacrosse, but I have to believe low. Not everyone on the team gets scholarship money, and some that do get scholarship money don’t get very much (eg $5,000).

If you are looking for money, you have to look where your daughter will be an impact player and/or impact student. For example, a d3 school where her academic stats put her among the top applicants could well give her merit aid of $25,000/year. And if she likes the lacrosse, that could be a great fit.

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Great question Bill.

Could we pay $75k per year (or $300k over 4 years) for Ivy, if we factor in 529 funds and other funds? Maybe? I hope not to spend that much so there is something for the other kids. :slightly_smiling_face:

More likely, we would probably need some level of student loans barring an angel investor.

But I would rather not spend that much if it can be avoided. Lot of opportunity cost for that tuition.

All that said, something to explore.

Great points. I/we are not expecting much athletic money. Never did. Just isn’t there in lacrosse. Totally understood.

I agree that academic merit at d3 could be best option.

As to impact player, I would like to think that if she had been able to be seen by more coaches last summer, it would have helped. Wishes were horses and all that…

Many d1 coaches voted to suspend in person d1 recruiting…and then went and signed 10 kids from top programs in country based on recruiting relationships. Their call. But ok. We’ll see the transfer portal in 2023 light up I am sure. Lolll. Some schools decided to not do that.

We are a bit far from where this thread started, but appreciate the insights from all, for sure.

with the d1 restriction finally being lifted as of tomorrow, and a series of tournaments in June and July, hoping this is a chance to be seen.

Now, if she is offered d1 spots (ha), she will have to decide if she should apply to other high academics who may be a better fit.

I know, COVID really has done a number on recruiting, this past year, and probably for a few years to come. I know it’s disappointing your daughter wasn’t able to be seen, but that’s true of all athletes. Ivies were beginning to express interest in my son in January/February of 2020 (so, he was not one of their top recruits) and without the chance to see him play in person that Spring their interest never developed. So I understand thinking about what if COVID hadn’t affected recruiting.

Athletic recruiting can be leveraged to get into more selective schools, or make one a sought after applicant. I would suggest getting clarity on the financial piece. If you really want merit money, then drop down a couple of tiers in selectivity. If you want very selective schools, then drop down a couple of tiers on the lacrosse front.

In addition to not knowing lacrosse, I don’t know engineering, so with that rather large caveat it seems to me some schools that might be a good to consider:

U. Chicago,
Case Western
U. Rochester
Carnegie Mellon

Good luck, recruiting is exciting, exhilarating, and also stressful and anxiety provoking!


College coaches have always relied on their friends in the club and high school arenas. They take those recommendations and see kids at the summer tournaments (and there were some summer tournaments last year), but they really depend on their friends (former college roommates, prep school friends, uncles who played, etc) to get their tips on players. My daughter played for a new college team, new college coach, new to the area. That coach ended up with 6 girls from the same club team over 3 years because the two coaches became friends and college coach relied on the club coach for referrals.

I think you have to decide if she’s going to go for the Ivies, knowing that that admission will be 100% based on academics - no tip or slot or help from the coach. Also, whether she’ll get to play in college as a walk on will really depend on the team. Yale? Probably not as they are a top recruiting team. Dartmouth? Maybe, but probably not. Columbia? Maybe. Playing time is also a consideration for walk ons. Some people don’t mind not getting playing time but others really do want to play, no matter how good the team is and would rather be on a lower ranked team but get to play than to win but never see field time.

Is that the level of play she is realistically going to play in? If so, she should look at programs and schools that are at that level if she is relying on money. A good player at Arizona State isn’t going to get the same scholarship money at Maryland. Both good schools academically, both big flagships, different worlds for women’s lacrosse. That same player is going to get a lot of playing time at ASU, not so much at Maryland.

My daughter made the decision to play at D2, on a new team (assumed she’d lose a lot), but at a school academically good for her with a lot of financial help (merit and athletic). Turned out to be the right choice for her academically, athletically, and (for me) financially! She played almost every minute for 4 years, was a captain for 2, owes a little on a student loan, and had a job as an engineer coming out of college. Does she wish she’d been able to play at a big D1 and win the Tewaaraton? Sure, but that was never going to happen. She was recruited by some D3 schools and didn’t like them academically (only a few have engineering) or because of the small size.

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It doesn’t sound like an Ivy is affordable.