HELP! Bad Preread Results

Hi all, I’ve been lurking on CC for a while now and I’m very thankful for all the advice provided by everyone here. It certainly makes the college admission process much easier.

DS is a rising senior and plays a non-mainstream sport that he’s SUPER passionate about. He’s not at the top of his recruiting class, but I’d say he’s within top 15 in his class and has garnered some interest from coaches (both D1 and D3 programs). He wants to go to a program that has a strong academic reputation but he doesn’t want to go to a LAC or has written off some programs if he can’t see himself fitting in with their roster (due to culture or opportunity).

He has honed in on a highly ranked academic school (D3). The school has a strong STEM focus but he’s more interested in social science.

Anyway, the coach seems to be very supportive and we have a feeling we would be either his 1st or 2nd choice. However, we got the bad news last night as the preread put him in the bottom tier and the coach said he can’t support him. He wished him luck if he applied on his own and said a spot will be there if he got in on his own.

Here’s his brief stats. He has a mixture of Honors/AP classes with an 3.65 UW and 4.4 W GPA from one of the most competitive public schools in the state. His grades are trending up, however. He had all A’s with one A- this year but he slipped up a couple times in the past particularly with a C+ in honors Math last year. Long story, but it was a huge lesson learned for him.

He took his first ACT in February and scored a 31. He’s been studying hard except there’s no way to be tested right now.

He has other EC. For example, he will start working at a healthcare software startup as a summer intern next week. He also started a GFM campaign at the beginning of the lockdown to raise money and supplied PPE to local hospitals.

I have the following questions and I’m hoping I could tap into the collective wisdom here.

First, I think he will will still apply to this school for ED. I think we all know it’s a long shot based on grades alone, but I’m curious if there’s anyway to boost his chance especially if he could show his passion and grit.

  • Can the preread change if we could provide additional stats (e.g. Senior term 1 GPA, improved ACT score)?
  • We understand his academic is below the school average. However, given this school takes a holistic admission approach, will recommendations and essay make enough of a difference? We are certain he will get great recommendations from his teachers and guidance counselor as he's close to them and participated well in class. I didn't say this because he's my DS, but I truly admire his character and integrity. I often wonder what I did to deserve having a kid like this. I'm certain he would do well wherever but I truly want to help him to get to where he wants the most.
  • When it comes to additional recommendations, is it a good idea to ask a parent (that knows him well) or his coach to write him one? He's a good teammate and a savant when it comes to the sport and has coached many of his teammates to achieve great results.
  • We have responded to the coach's email and we're asking for a Zoom call to see if we could get any additional insight. This school's admission office also has a regional liaison for our state and we're considering reaching out to him and ask for a call to understand more on the holistic admission process. Is that a good idea?

His other option is a D1 program. It’s a top 30 ranked academic school. The coaching staff seem to love him. However, they told him they feel that he could get in on his own without their help and they’d rather save the finite number of spots on areas of need and for students with lessor academic achievements. They do EA, so he’ll apply anyway.

Anyway, this is all I can think of. Any insight is very much appreciated.

I would have some additional options. I really don’t see how a 3.6/31 is a slam dunk at a top 30 school. I would also move on from the first school. They have already tried to say no in a nice way.

I tend to agree with the above. Are the two schools you mentioned the only two schools where he is being recruited?

Will you be applying for financial aid? Did the pre-read admissions staffer know whether or not you will be applying for FA?

I think if there was a way for your son to do another pre-read, the coach would have said so. It sounds like, at this point, the coach is unable–or unwilling–to support him.

Ugh, we are going through the preread process too, so my heart goes out to you and your son. I have no wisdom to share, but wanted to let you know you are not the only one going through all of this! Fingers crossed everything works out ok in the end for your son, and mine.

I wouldn’t apply ED without support at a school that already indicated they aren’t high on the application. I’d explore options, particularly at schools where his academic stats are a good match. I’d ask the D1 more about admissions. If he’s a top recruit I’m surprised they’d risk sending him through admissions without support.

Your son sounds like a great kid and will probably thrive wherever he ends up. But before getting too caught up in the recruiting whirlwind you might want to figure out what the plan is if recruiting doesn’t give him the options he wants. Sometimes knowing there’s a decent backup plan can make the process easier to take.

Thank you all for the quick response.

We started out with reaching out to a few more schools towards the end of last year. A few didn’t respond, a couple said no due to not having a need or done with recruiting. There were a third school (D1, top 40) that he and the coach REALLY hit it off and he has mentioned DS would be his top recruit for next year. However, the school is really far away and Covid gave us a second thought on going to a school that’s too far away. I’d say that’s out of the picture for now.

We absolutely understand his stat is not a slam dunk for the top 30 D1 school. They seem to have less of a need for his position because they got a strong influx of incoming freshmen all got in on their own. We’re not going to push it. Given it’s EA, we’d apply anyway and we’re also hoping for one more shot at the ACT. We’re also hoping he could continue to do well in the Fall with a more rigorous schedule.

We have a few more options in the US and we’re assessing. He will certainly apply for at least 1 backup school that he could still participate in the sport. We actually heard back from that school very early in the process, but we haven’t been actively contacting them. He truly loves this sport and he really wants to experience being on a team in college. That really narrows the number of schools he would apply.

We do have another option to apply for Canadian schools as he has obtained citizenship through my wife (speaking of marrying the right woman). However, this means he won’t be able to compete at the NCAA level which is his dream since age 12. He will apply to Canadian schools because they’re so open about admission requirements and he’s met them already. He also understands there’s a huge financial incentive to do so.

I have also been trying to get him to consider not playing the sport or participating in a club team to open more options without much success. I guess the good part of having a kid that knows what he wants is, we don’t need to consider too many options. The bad news is, we also have limited options.

@Mwfan1921 We didn’t really talk about FA during the recruiting process. We’re fortunate that it will not be a deciding factor. This is why I would like to have a conversation if possible and if we could get some offline commentary. When we met with the coach, he mentioned preread could change with additional info. We didn’t understand what that means and would like to follow up.

@cinnamon1212 Good luck to you and your kid. I wish you the best of luck and I hope you would get a much more favorable results than my son.

I have a question. You keep saying “we.” As in, “WE started out with reaching out to a few more schools towards the end of last year” – “Can the preread change if WE could provide additional stats” – “WE have responded to the coach’s email and WE’re asking for a Zoom call to see if WE could get any additional insight. This school’s admission office also has a regional liaison for our state and WE’re considering reaching out to him.”

I hope your son is the one doing the reaching out, the providing of information, the responding, the asking, and the considering. Parental interference in the process can be a red flag to a college.

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@brantly Thanks for asking and pointing that out. Yes, he’s been doing all the communication himself. I’m more of a consigliri if that makes sense. I have suggested things to him and he would incorporate that in his emails. I usually help with proofreading but I try not to change how he phrases things too much. Part of me also want to take this opportunity to teach him how to write professional emails.

When we did in person/Zoom meetings, if I could attend, I’d sit in and take notes. I try not to say too much but I did ask some questions here and there. We usually prep for these meetings and we have a question template. He would just go down the list and I’d check them off.

The D3 school held a group session with all the recruits and team members and he did that all by himself.

Here is the problem with applying to the “bad” pre-read school: Admissions already has looked at his stats, assumed that the coach would provide support, and has basically said that they won’t admit him. At this point, the coach is not going to support him, so admission would be even more unlikely. As most D3 schools ask their recruits to apply ED, I can’t see how applying ED would help.

I know that the pre-read result is tough to take, and I get that he is a strong applicant - maybe just not to this school. On the other hand, it is a good thing to know now where you stand so that you can adjust objectives.

If I were you, I would ask the D1 coach if he would request a pre-read. He might only request pre-reads for recruits, but if the coach would request one, that could inform you where things stand. If you get a positive pre-read there, it might be a worthy alternative.

@gointhruaphase Thanks for the advice. Yes. We’re brainstorming our options. There are schools we didn’t reach out at all and I’m trying to get him to consider so he would at least contact the coaches. It doesn’t hurt to broaden the search. It’s an excellent suggestion to ask for a pre-read with the D1 school. We’ll ask for that.

The D3 coach did respond to us and we have setup a call with him. We’ll see what he says.

DS feels fine with the idea of going to school in Canada. He will apply to the top academic schools there for sure. Their application process is very straightforward. We have toured one of the campuses last year and they said an applicant only need to meet the published academic requirements (major dependent) and test score. They also do not require essay/EC. I believe they also do rolling decisions so we’ll find out the results sooner.

It is great that you have a call set up with the coach. Make sure that you drill down on the reasons for the pre-read result. Critical to ascertain is whether the coach decided not to support, resulting in the negative pre-read, or whether the negative pre-read caused the coach to elect not to support him (I know, you believe it to be the latter, but I would try to clarify). I would straight up ask the coach where your kid was on the list before the pre-read. Did the coach think he was going to pass the pre-read before he sent your kid’s information to Admissions? Did admissions say that anything could be improved that would result in admission? What does the coach think your son’s chances for admission are without coach support and in his current posture?

Hi. One of two things is happening here based on the information you provided. The first thought is that many coaches cast a wide net early on and then narrow down. Your son may have been of some interest to him/her earlier on and now the coach has the opportunity to move on to better athletes that are available within the pool of the sport. You seemed to focus a ton on your son’s academic accomplishments, which are great, but in the end of the day, coaches want to win with the best athletes they can attract. Winning teams make for better marketing, happier big time donors, better budgets, and keeping jobs.

You can’t have a feeling whether your son is their first or second choice, you need to ask and know if your son is one of their top two RECRUITS. Most parents will have positive parental bias about their kids, so you need it confirmed with a reality check; even if it is disappointing and possibly hurtful. Unfortunately, passion for a sport is not enough if your son has not put up enough good numbers, wins, etc. However, that should not stop him from continuing to find an outlet to play something he enjoys.

Also, some of the things you stated seem a bit out of order in the process. Typically, an athlete will get a verbal commitment from a coach towards the end of the junior year in the respect that they are willing to fully support them through recruiting with the admissions office. Only then are coaches usually willing to accept pre-read materials to submit and confirm that support for the actual application. Different schools have different methods. Some schools’ admissions offices require coaches submit all pre-reads in one bundle where others allow them to feed them one at a time or when received. Some schools even have dedicated liaisons between athletics and admissions, and others have admissions officers who specialize only on athlete applications. Usually pre-reads are a one and done from the coaches perspective.

Further, you never mentioned if you asked any of the coaches how much “pull” they have with admissions. Pull for coaches varies greatly from school to school no matter if D1 or D3. Be aware that with this question, coaches will also game things for their benefit. Almost all will weight their pull towards ED1 whether true or not because they want to lock up athletes they are willing to do a pre-read on as early as possible. You need to read between the lines in some cases and in others, coaches will be brutally honest. Finally, when a coach thinks they are being tactful by saying they think he can get in on his own, that is an example of read between the lines…your son unfortunately is not recruiting worthy and they would possibly only consider him as a walk on. Some schools have preferential walk on lists, but they are almost to totally meaningless from a college acceptance and coaches’ pull standpoint.


We met with the coach and he confirmed that it’s likely the C+ that killed it. He said he didn’t look too closely on individual grades before submitting but that’s usually is not good from his experience. He also confirmed that DS was one of his top 4 recruits and he would have supported his application and if the pre-read came in a tier higher. Based on his description of the other 3 recruits, we know DS would be either #1 or #2 on his list because we have an idea who 2 of the other 3 are and the third one does not seem to be as well known at a national level. The coach has been honest with us throughout and he gave us some additional info during the last call.

The coach also said a couple interesting things. First, if DS could get a better test score and/or better term 1 grades, he’s happy to resubmit for another read but he can’t guarantee if it would improve his standing. If we didn’t apply for ED, and he has not used up all the spots, we could revisit for RD if his stats improved. He was definitely being realistic about our chances as the majority of the applicants would not be admitted without a hook.

He also said that the fact that DS was sent for a preread would not hurt his chance. In fact, it could help him by just a tiny bit because adcom now knows he’s wanted by his team. He also said we should feel free to reach out to our regional liaison to learn more about holistic admission and how to prep for the application if we do decide to apply.

We have asked the first D1 school for a pre-read just to see if he’s truly in range. We’re also looking at other schools that we haven’t reached out. We’re also reconsidering the 2nd D1 school that we have a good relationship with. DS’ coach is also willing to help and reach out to some of the coaches he has a good relationship with. I think at this point, given some of the top programs have already done with recruiting, we feel that even a letter of recommendation would be a good outcome. Fingers crossed.

@gointhruaphase Thanks for all the questions. We definitely used them to prep for this call and we got all of them answered.

@XfactorZ1 To answer your question about “pull”, the coach was upfront with us in terms of how much influence he has. I’ve also have talked to other parents from this program and they said similar things.

Thanks everyone for your input. This has been helpful. If anything changed, I’ll keep you posted.

Best Regards.

I’m always reminded of the interview with the MIT track coach when these types of topics come up…

Q: You get a young man who is a 4:10 miler, or a young woman who’s a sub-5 miler, who fills out the recruiting questionnaire….great, hard working kids, but…….with a 3.5 and 1350 SAT’s. He/she have any chance?

A: Great question. We have no picks, slots, or likely letter possibilities. We do not even have legacy options. With that said, admissions does try to help, but only when the academic criteria is met. No, a 3.5 and 1350 would have a zero chance of admission. The minimum standards I will successfully recruit are 3.9 unweighted with all A’s in math and science while taking at least AP Calc and AP Physics and the most rigorous curriculum available. Scores would have to be 770 or higher for math and 720 or higher for reading/writing with subject test scores of 780 or higher for math and 760 or higher for science.

Definitely ask the coach and pay attention to the wording of the email. If it says the grades are out of range and the coach cannot give support, then it is not worth applying. I was involved in this recruiting process last year (Class of 2020) and it can be stressful. My top choice was Wesleyan for swimming and the coach basically told me, “admissions has informed us your stats are towards the bottom half and there is RISK in applying (as in you might not get admitted), but we will still support you if you apply ED.” Essentially this is a gamble saying even though your grades are below average the coach will still be willing to support you. I applied and was deferred to the RD pool. I mainly looked at T20 LAC and got 4 schools responses total. I can share a sample of three other’s schools pre-read responses that I got:

“Admissions said you have slightly more B’s than A’s and we do not have the ability to support your application” (if wording is like this not the Wesleyan one then don’t apply at all)

“Admissions has seen your ability to handle challenging coursework and you are likely to be admitted. Do you feel you are verbally ready to commit.” (coach honestly called me almost every week and was eager for me to do an overnight and visit, but this was not even my second choice and I basically cut off communication by asking about RD to which he responded: “Why are you considering RD?”)

Vassar (applied ED2, accepted):
“Your stats are within range and admittable.” There is a bit luck involved with recruiting. Sometimes it is the number of applicants applying. At Wesleyan, 6 male swimmers applied and only three got in. When I applied to Vassar, I was the only male swimmer that applied. When the coach called me, she basically said two of her two top recruits were given negative pre reads and she was pretty eager for me to apply ED2 since she basically would not have any ED2 recruits and only had 1 ED1 admit. This pre read is like a slightly better one than the Wesleyan one. I gambled for Vassar too and got luckier in a way.

Hope this helped and good luck in the process!

That was very helpful @Unattswim56

Good luck to you at Vassar!

Quick Update:

DS was extremely fortunate. First, he realized he really didn’t want to go to the first school and he was blinded by the prestige. He also realized his first choice, a D1 program with a high academic ranking, really has been the same all along. He finally got to retake his ACT and got a superscore of 34. With that, his first choice agreed to offer him a recruiting spot. We have already committed to that school. In addition, a prestigious D3 LAC also showed a lot of interest and was going to support his application. He really liked that school too but the competition and athletic support would not be the same comparing to a D1 program. Plus, there’s a quite a bit of cost saving.

Thank you all for your help! We’re grateful for the position we’re in and good luck to you all! If there’s one takeaway from all this, just don’t give up, keep calm and carry on. Schools often don’t commit until late.

Congratulations to your DS @lastmile. The recruiting process is can be long and stressful, and even more so this year. Good luck to your DS!