NESCAC Athletic Recruiting

Was curious if anyone is experiencing NESCAC athletic recruiting in the class of 2021 or can provide their experience in prior years. Son is being looked at for both football and lacrosse at various NESCAC schools. The test optional component is confusing us. He just scored a 1310 on the SAT with no prep, which is on the lower end of the NESCAC ranges (25th percentile). Does anyone know what score is worthy of submitting if you are going into a pre-read in June for lacrosse? Son will take the SAT again in May after tutoring. Also, any insight on how COVID and recruiting is affecting your son or daughter at various NESCAC schools. He has various levels of interest; some are selling him and some our son if doing the selling, but has their attention and interest. Curious how roster sizes will be affected with Covid and kids taking gap years or gap semesters to maintain athletic eligibility.

As an initial aspect to consider, your son’s SAT score already places him near the 50th percentile at a NESCAC such as Bates (1210–1420).

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I would talk directly to the coaches about whether to submit (what score or above) or go TO. The standards are likely different for each school. As far as gap year and students on the roster, this is again a specific conversation with each coach. It is a conversation about total roster size but more importantly about the depth chart by graduating year for your son’s position(s).


If your son is a recruit, it is very much in the coaches’s interest to get the green light on the pre-read and ultimately to have him admitted. That is why @BKSquared recommends asking the coach. We actually had one coach (non-NESCAC D3) offer to review an admissions essay before the formal application was submitted. So it is best to listen to the coaches.

The scores needed are different for different NESCACs. For Middlebury, for example, a recruit should aim for at least a 1400. For Amherst, aim for at least a 32 ACT. Please note, these scores came from coaches and are from a few years ago. While the needed scores likely have changed since then, one thing has not. If you ask a coach what scores are needed, they will tell you where you should fall.


I agree with the posters who have said to defer to the coaches…required test scores will be different by school (and sometimes within a school, by sport). Some schools/teams may allow an athletic recruit to apply test optional, while others won’t (even at TO schools). Good luck, the process can be stressful and take awhile.


Agree with all the above advice. I can add a little color. I assume you have a '22, and you are asking for ‘21 kids’ recruiting experiences.

My son (different sport) took the SAT after his sophomore year and got a lower score than your son. Then COVID hit, couldn’t retest Junior year, schools went test optional. All that said every single college my son was in talks with wanted his score. And that score was submitted to all the schools he got prereads at. And that score was good enough for the top tier (academically) NESCACs (Bowdoin, Williams). Interestingly, when my son applied ED to the school where he accepted the coach’s offer he did not submit that score, although the Admissions Office had seen it as part of the preread.

As for how COVID has affected recruiting – it has, quite significantly. I know last summer Williams’ admission office told the coaches they had to stop recruiting, and couldn’t make any offers while the AO worked through who was deferring etc. I think the NESCAC has a cap on total number of athletic recruits in any one year. I know my son’s prep school college advisor was worried that even if he got an offer at a NESCAC that offer could be rescinded by the AO, again, if there were just too many recruits across all the sports. In the end my son got offers at three NESCACs but did not take any of them.

If you can, it is good to be an impact recruit. I.e. at the top of the coach’s list. That way, if there is some kind of squeeze, or if, say, the lacrosse coach is told by the AO that he actually has one fewer spot to offer, it won’t be your son that is dropped. But that’s just my opinion.

Some schools had all their seniors on a team take a year off and they will be returning next year, so there are just fewer roster spots. Also, some '21s have reclassified as '22s so the pool of recruits is larger. It will vary by school and by sport, so again, the coaches will know best what the situation is.

Have the NESCACs gone test optional for next year? If they have I would guess that your son’s score would be ok, so long as the coach also thinks it would.


Thank you - really informative response and you nailed a couple key points I was curious about. We will be sharing the SAT score shortly with his coaches and agree, we will find out from each coach whether they would want to submit or not based on school - we have some top tier NESCACs and some mid tier. I think he is varying on the depth chart by school, but pretty high on a couple given how early and frequently some coaches have been working him (Spring last year as Sophomore) with them reaching out every two weeks for the past year to just check in etc. I think it will be super interesting to see how things shake out with roster size. All NESCACs are now test optional which is wild, but in my opinion at least with these type of high academic schools, if you are sitting on a depth chart next to someone who submitted with high 1400 score and you did not submit, I cannot imagine why they would not take the kid with the high score, just my opinion. Appreciate the insight. Thank you!!!


No problem. Another bit of color I can pass on is that some coaches are better at recruiting than others. So, enthusiasm can really mean your son is at the top of their pool, or it can mean the coach/program is just casting a wide net and doing a superb job recruiting. And vice versa, long periods of radio silence, where you think for sure your son’s fallen off the charts can just mean that the coach isn’t great at staying in touch.

The program that showed the most consistent and enthusiastic interest in my son all through junior year, and it was by far the most enthusiasm shown, including several visits to campus, ended up not even giving my son a preread, let alone an offer. So that was disappointing, but the flip side happened too – my son got an offer at a school where the coach didn’t reply to my son over the summer before senior year.


Super interesting and sage advice!!

100%. Until the coach tells you directly that you have a fully supported slot if you apply ED and that your chances are now better than 90%, you have nothing but “marketing” noise. Make sure you ask specifically if your son is getting a fully supported slot or is only getting a “tip”/soft support. The former means he is in unless the AO finds something drastically off in the application. The latter just means he gets extra credit for his sports EC. Many families (see other threads here) end up disappointed because they chose ED with soft support and got rejected when they could have gotten full support elsewhere that they lost going ED with the first school.


Good thoughts, All. I would only add what is probably obvious but should still be said. For most coaches in most circumstances, the test scores are on a sliding scale. The more he wants your student-athlete, the lower the required test score. I know that a top recruit at a top NESCAC was told that he needed a 29 ACT while other very solid recruits were told a minimum of 32. So it really depends on how much they want your athlete. As others have indicated, our experience with NESCAC coaches was that they were pretty clear about their requirements. And they were trustworthy.

I would also second what cinnamon1212 said about communication with coaches. Some coaches are good at it. Others are shockingly bad at it. So factor that into the equation and don’t spend too much time second-guessing. If you’re interested in a school, ask the coach where you stand. Most will be honest. They’re not interested in playing games though there are times when they must juggle recruits. Just keep an open mind and don’t get too settled on one school until you have an offer of support. It’ll work out one way or another. There are lots of great schools.


It seems that all NESCAC and similar D3 are now test optional for class of 2022. Does anyone have experience where these schools are requiring 22 recruits to have scores? On this forum, there were comments that recruits from 2021 had never been asked for scores for prereads last summer once schools went test optional (even the Ivys announced scores weren’t required of athletes, though that wasn’t until Aug 2020). The NESCACS or similar schools my athlete has been in contact with have not requested a score, but obviously haven’t gone through the prereads yet (though have submitted transcripts and grades). He didn’t score very high the first time he tested (found a place to test and wanted to see what it was like in a mask, etc) - and shortly thereafter, TO was announced, so it seemed unnecessary to try to test again. With the sports on Saturdays and the heavy load of APs junior year and other activities, he would rather not retake if not required. He has high grades and rigor and is at top of his class. Any input re others’ experience appreciated!

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To share some experience with my Son’s (2021)recruiting process.

DS has been playing at highest state level team sports till now. since his Sophomore year, he has targeted some strong academic D3 schools and started contacting coaches, the whole process was moving along smoothly and pretty much all the D3 coaches have been focusing on keeping up with academic performance to fit into school’s overall academic requirements.

We were repeatedly told by his #1 choice school that he was the top candidate, kids at his age are still not maturing enough to know that until there is the firm commitment right before application, nothing in between really counts.

As the results, the coach of his dream school dropped him over the summer of 2020 stating he found some other stronger candidate to fill the spot. we were desperate then. Luckily He still kept some loose conversations with a few Top NESCAC coaches, he then re-engaged the process more eagerly at the end of summer.

Given COVID, gap years at those schools, he has nailed down to one top NESCAC school and one non NESCAC strong academic D3 school as his final choices. The pre-read went well, but Coach at NESCAC school had made his decision that given only a few spots he can offer for this year, my son has to apply through his own merit, but if he gets in, there is a guaranteed spot for him.

DS has very strong academic achievements, top 1 /2 at his grade ( 4.9 gpa), nearly perfect SAT, he might be able to get into some very good/better schools purely base on academics, but to play in college has been his dream. Anyway, he EDed and got into this NESCAC school, it is a happy ending for now.

Hope this is helpful and I have learnt a lot from this site and just trying to share his journey as my token to returning the favor!


@NCparent123 Glad everything worked out for your S21. Did the NESCAC coach offer a tip/soft support or was this just a “good luck” ED application? Since your S21 went ED with the NESCAC school, did the non NESCAC coach also say “good luck if you get in” message? Thank you!

NESCAC coach told him that he had to get in through his own merits and encouraged him to apply ED, but AO had pre-read his transcript, so not sure if that could potentially be helpful.

S21 had the full support from the coach from other D3 school, but this might be the only school that coach’s full support has no guarantee for getting in. He applied EA for this school. he rescinded application after he got In NESCAC school, so we never know if he would have got in.

Both coaches had no chance to see his games in person, it had been hard year for college recruiting.

For folks on this thread, any sense of slots or spots for any of the helmet sports in the NESCACs? Have heard about A, B and C academic bands. We know football has the most slots, but unclear by band. We have read articles that lacrosse only has 2 slots where they can dip outside of typical profile but that is also managed across all four years/team make up, so if can shift year to year, sometime more slots, sometimes less.

@Paso2424, this dated article from the NYTimes explains how slots are allocated at NESCAC schools. One Division III Conference Finds That Playing the Slots System Pays Off - The New York Times. As the article suggests, the NESCAC school at issue decides how the overall slot number is allocated, however it usually ends up being about two slots per team (except Football). In addition, NESCACs allow coaches to support tips (referenced in the article as athletes whose academic credentials are indistinguishable from other non-athletic applicants). As a very general matter, each team other than football gets two slots and three tips. These are very general numbers and can change from year to year, school to school. It is best to ask specific coaches how many athletes he or she intends to recruit.

As to what constitutes A, B and C bands, this also varies depending on the NESCAC school at issue. The article suggests that the average slot had SAT test scores that fall 60-75 points below the mean test scores for the incoming freshman class.

Hello! Just re-reading your post? Can I ask what sport your son was pursuing when he was doing pre-reads at the NESCACs?

Sure, soccer.

One thing that is a little screwy with '21, '22 and maybe even '23 recruits is that many students still have a ‘covid year’ left for spring sports (or some fall sports if they didn’t play in '20). Watching the tournament play this spring, it was pretty eye-opening to see how many 5th year seniors and grad students were playing.

I don’t know if the students will continue with an undergrad degree for a 5th year at a NESCAC or if they will transfer. Some might want to transfer with 2 years of eligibility left, especially if they are transferring to an Ivy or elite grad school. I think a lot of those who transferred this year figured out how to graduate from Princeton and Yale and still have eligibility left, so the best of both worlds. Don’t know if NESCAC athletes are figuring it out too.