Is HADE+CL a good fit for recruited athletes looking to go Ivy?

DC26 is considering applying to some highly competitive and academically rigorous boarding schools for 9th grade entry Fall 2022. DC26 is an A student attending a private day school that goes up to 12th, but is not challenged academically. DC26 is already being recruited by some Ivy and top D1 programs.

As parents, we are open to the idea of boarding school and see many positives, including forced learning of time management which is crucial for a student-athlete in college, but are concerned that a pressure cooker environment won’t allow for the time needed to train for sport while maintaining a high GPA.

DC26 has done a lot of research already and is primarily interested in HADE+CL, which seem to be described as “balanced” at best, and with homework loads in some cases described as increasing over time to up to 4 hours/day. DC26 has already reached out to coaches at a few of the schools, and they have responded enthusiastically.

As a recruited athlete DC26 doesn’t need tippy top grades/scores to be admitted to some of the Ivy and high academic D1 schools that would be top choices, but how hard is it to get “good enough” grades at these boarding schools to meet those minimum Academic Index standards?
(some college coaches have already said they would like to see minimum 3.8 unweighted, 1400 SAT) Would having to be so dually focused on sport + academics prevent DC26 from experiencing all of the other great things that BS has to offer?

I know this is completely subjective and child-dependent, but would appreciate thoughts from any parents who have gone through this experience with their recruited athlete child who attended BS. I also realize this post may come across as elitist but I am just trying to be honest about our situation and trying to get feedback to help make the best decision possible for DC26.

What sport your child plays really matters and how much will they need to play DURING the school year. I would not recommend the boarding school route for sports if you will need to train and play tournaments while school is in session. It’s almost impossible. Almost. Yes there are kids who do it. Everywhere. If they are already at the top of their sport and can miss a lot of the club play that happens during school it might be ok. If they have a club sport that is set up around a BS schedule it might work.

If it’s boys soccer and you can play for black rock and you choose a school where that works it’s an option. I think lacrosse is heavily during the summer so that might work.

I don’t know. My kid is driven to get top grades and dropped the sport he was better at for a sport he needs to work at to be recruited. It’s a hard road and I do not recommend it.

One thing I’ll say is absolutely do not choose a school with Saturday classes. Absolutely understand the school sports requirement and explicitly ask “will my child be allowed out of school practice on the days he has club practice?” If you are allowed to speak to current students ask them subtly what their gpa is.

We got duped by the “if your kid has good time management it works out fine.”

Feel free to ask more questions. I’m going to tag @cinnamon1212 because her son played soccer at Hotchkiss.

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I should have added that if your child is trying to play his club sport while in school then yes he is going to miss a lot of the things that BS has to offer.

Also a bit confused about your list of schools. A kid who is pulling a 3.8 at those schools is highly unlikely to be be leaving 3 x a week for practice and every Saturday and Sunday for a tournament. The kids who are doing that are mostly pulling 85’s and taking the easiest classes, no honors, no APs.

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Don’t have time to respond in depth. But bottom line is that it is COMPLETELY dependent on the child and their time management skills. It can be done. Every year there are many recruited athletes coming out of boarding schools.

To give more specific advice we’d need to know the sport.

But if your child (almost certainly a girl!) is already being recruited, why not focus on slightly less intense schools? Your child will still be challenged.

Finally, in my experience a 3.8 gpa is not necessary to be recruited at academically selective colleges. I know a recruited athlete who was admitted to Williams with a 3.4 (from Hotchkiss).

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I was recruited to an Ivy for a sport and attended a second tier BS in New England. What I have learned from the experience is that like colleges, every BS cares more about some sports than others. It is more important to look at the college placement by individual team, usually the coach can tell you or its on the team profile on the schools website. Additionally, would your child consider reclassifying?

That is a common theme among boarding school students in general, especially among athletes. I am anti reclassifying until Junior Year if at all as I believe anytime earlier is not worth it as it is not until after one’s junior season they have a realistic idea of where they stand.

With regards to the Ivy League AI, It is about Test Scores and GPA in that order(rigor doesn’t matter) so going to a less rigorous boarding school with the same or better caliber team is also wroth considering. In case the Ivy League doesn’t work, it is important to note that NESCAC’s such as Williams, Amherst, etc weight rigor and have higher academic standards for most athletes than Ivies.

Finally, is your child being recruited to a BS right now? Some sports at BS have lots of recruits such as football, basketball, hockey, lacrosse and mens sports tend to have more recruits than women’s sports. It is important to know what percent of the teams roster were recruited and the college placement differences between recruited BS athletes and non-recruited ones.

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Which sport, which Ivy school do you attend, and do you still play? It would be very useful to have the context of your experience when considering the applicability of your advice.

My kid has received athletic interest from colleges prior to BS (kid is a non repeating freshman who just started boarding at a HADES school) so I can’t offer a perspective on how BS changed kid’s athletic trajectory for college recruiting since we haven’t gone there yet.

However, we were in a similar situation to you last year. My kid was challenged athletically with two year round sports at a very high level but wasn’t challenged academically at our local private school. If we were totally focused on our kid going high academic/D1 as an athletic recruit then we would probably have kept kid home with us and continued the crazy sports treadmill that is going on all around us (and quite honestly, is fairly toxic with parents complaining about their kids play time, switching clubs since the grass is always greener, secret private coaching etc).

Instead we, as a family, decided that the best route to take was focus on the next four years rather than worry about college. BS, we hope, will give our kid the independence, the academic rigor, the peer relationships, and continue to spark our kid’s intellectual curiosity in a way that wasn’t going to be possible at home. Kid is hoping to play varsity as a freshman at BS but coaches haven’t guaranteed that, which is just fine. We are continuing to try and balance club sports with BS commitments (kid did not choose a BS with Saturday classes, and chose a club which understands BS so is flexible on practices/events).

Kid thinks that they would love to go to a top notch D1 school as an athlete, but that may change. Burn out, injury, changing interests, or just falling out of love with the sport could easily happen.
My husband and I looked at the college matriculation lists over the last few years from kid’s BS and felt that we’d be happy with kid going to pretty much ANY of the schools on the list.

If kid was totally focused on going to an Ivy school, then staying home (and getting bored at school, or probably switching to our LPS) while being over coached at sport, and tutored for PSAT/SAT would probably have been a better bet. We are hoping that the BS journey is going to offer so much more than that.

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I’ll second the comments regarding how club practice/tournaments will conflict with BS schedule. We simply did not ask enough questions regarding flexibility to miss afternoon program games, Saturday classes, etc. While we’re making it work this term, attendance at club practices and tournaments will be about 50-60%. This was cleared with the club coach before accepting a spot on the team. If we could go back 6 months in time we would have been much less accepting of the surface answers we were given and more aggressive about nailing down details. If you don’t have to juggle off campus training then it’s a very different situation.

I’ve already convinced my daughter that it’s okay not to be in the honors/AP section of a class given her other commitments. There’s still plenty of rigor in the regular sections. Even with that, it probably won’t be sustainable for her in the long term.

By way of comparison, her twin sister is at the LPS (a quality school), taking every honors class she can, and practicing or playing VB every weeknight for 3 hours (plus travel time). Less than two weeks in and she’s already stretched really thin. Plus she has a club sport that’s she’s debating dropping because she can’t make the weekday practices. Tough decisions in store for her over the next two days.

My point is that it’s tough to handle a club sport and an in season sport at the secondary school level regardless of whether you’re at a day or boarding school. If the BS allows your child to opt out of their afternoon program then it will be easier.

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Another recommendation, ask to see the school profile that they send to colleges before you apply. They may say no, but it will show you how hard it is to get top grades. I think someone posted the Choate grade breakdown a while ago and it is very different from the range at Groton which I have also seen. Things like that matter, really matter. If only a handful of kids are getting averages above 92 that tells you that it’s going to be almost impossible to pull top grades and train for a sport. The prevailing wisdom says that it won’t matter because colleges will see those profiles and know that an 89 average is outstanding but, through personal conversations with other CC parents, I have found this to be somewhat hit or miss. So you are taking a chance that the rigor will play out in your kids’ favor.

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But at academically selective schools – which is presumably what people are talking about when they are concerned about getting super high GPA-- those schools absolutely can put each boarding school into context.

Where there may be an issue is with Ivies, and the AI formula.

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When you look at all the kids recruited at boarding schools for Ivies and other top colleges, make sure you put things in context. How many of those kids are actually boarding school students that started in 9th grade? By and large, there are a bunch of PGs, and then a lot of repeat juniors and some repeat sophomores too. And a fair number of day students whose parents are still doing all the club/camps/prospect day runaround all year. It is also very sport dependent so you need to look at what applies to you.

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Most schools have the school profile on their websites. Just google it. I think that I found it for every school that kid applied to.

It takes some time to interpret between schools because every school reports it their own way. But it should give a grade/GPA distribution chart and typically also mean and middle 50% of SAT and ACT (although you might have to google older versions of the profile to see standardized testing averages due to last year being so funky and many kids not taking them).

Helpful comments. Additional context:

The sport is golf, so there are no club considerations. Most of the tournaments are during the summer, but once you get to age 15+ there are some elite invitationals during the school year (not required but would be ideal). I am also concerned about course and practice facility accessibility and convenience during the school year. While L & H have 9-hole courses on campus, the course at D seems a bit farther away from campus than other schools. Does D provide a shuttle to Crumpin-Fox, or would students need to rely on taxi or Uber/Lyft? Do schools allow students to regularly go off campus for practice at the course? All of the schools mention having indoor practice facilities, but without visiting the schools it is tough to compare.

It sounds like I would need to get some more clarity from both BS and colleges on grading scales and how it affects AI.

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@MacJackAttack Ours is not, I suspect because it would give parents pause if they knew the distribution before sending their kids.

@kjbest76
ok, I am no help because I know absolutely nothing about golf! Maybe @Golfgr8 can weigh in!

I think your main problem will be finding time to practice while doing all the other things at BS - classes, homework, required afternoon activity, etc.

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Hill has full access to a country club course adjacent to the school (easy walk) and varsity golf during both fall and spring athletic seasons. I don’t know the sport so can’t comment on quality of coaching etc.

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Remember AI only applies to Ivies. There are phenomenal academically selective schools out there that do not have an AI formula. (Duke, Vanderbilt, Stanford etc).

Also, the coaches telling you that you need a 3.8 and 1400 SAT are speaking to you in an academic vacuum, since your child is in 8th grade. I personally know an athlete who had to hit a 1250 to be admitted to Stanford. And I already mentioned the 3.4 gpa Williams admit. There can be flexibility on the schools’ part (while of course understanding that it’s always better to have higher grades and scores).

There seems to be a belief held by a few posters that lower gpa’s at some selective boarding schools hurts their students’ college placement. I will be blunt. This simply is not true. Those schools have excellent college placement, placement that is indistinguishable from their peers. These schools have been around for more than 100 years and have very long histories with elite colleges. All academically selective colleges know each academically selective boarding school and can put gpa’s into context.

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I think this is because some people have had conversations where people - coaches, new AOs at colleges, who are not familiar with the BS and have gotten hard push back on the grades. Yes, the BSs overall have excellent placement, no one is arguing that. But we are talking about individual kids talking to individual coaches who are saying “Geez, those grades are low” - coaches not in the boondocks who “should” absolutely know about the BS the kids are coming from.

In my very tangential knowledge of golf it is one of the sports where the highest GPA is needed to get on the team because it is a sport where people who play tend to have higher GPAs. So there may have been a 3.4 admit to Williams but my guess is that was not in one of the “smart” sports. Each sport has their own range. If the OP is being told that 3.8 is it (which I totally believe for golf) - OP you should ask coaches if that is a hard line or how much they take the rigor and grading scale of the school into account. It also matters how good your kid is. OP, your kid might need a 3.8 to get in, someone else who is the best ever at that sport might only need a 3.4. There is no fairness in recruiting and college admissions.

Longtime coaches at academically selective schools, talking to kids with grades in the top 25% of their boarding school?

  • if a coach is in their 1st year, at an academically selective school (and not having come from an academically selective school), maybe.

  • if the college isn’t academically selective, maybe

  • if the GPA is in the bottom 25% for the boarding school, maybe.

Otherwise, I stand by what I wrote. Show me the HADES (or equivalent) kid, with a GPA in the top half of their class, with an SAT over 1300 that the coach really wants, that was not recruited for academic reasons and I will eat my hat!

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