Walking on the team? D1 and D3?

I am going to be very vague because I don’t want coaches to ID me.

I am a rising senior, class of 22, and I play a position in a sport where colleges might recruit 1 per class. I would like to play in college, because I like to play, even if it doesn’t help me get into a school. I have been told I am good enough for a D1, but not a P5, but I am thinking I might prefer a D3 for more balance.

I am very specific about what I want to major in, and it’s a combination of subjects that you don’t find at most schools. Getting that combo of majors is more important to me than being at the top school.

There is one top school that I am interested in, but they don’t do ED for the program I’d want. I’d have to either apply ED, and then if I didn’t get into the program, pick a different major, or apply RD which I think means I wouldn’t get an admissions bump. If I got in to the program, that school would be my top choice. But if I didn’t get into the program, I’d rather go somewhere else.

The other schools I’m interested are either D3 or less well known D1, and are schools where I probably don’t need the admissions bump.

My question is, if I apply RD, so that I don’t get trapped as ED at the top school, can I still get an admissions bump? If I apply RD to the other schools, and don’t get an admissions bump because of it, can I still play? Will the coaches who were willing to recruit me still want me?

If I get into the top school, but not the program, and I want to transfer after a year, what is it like to transfer as an athlete?

I’m not sure i’m making sense, sorry to be secretive, but I really don’t want to name the school.

Are you in contact with the coaches for the various schools you are interested in? Have you clarified the availability of a spot? Have you discussed your academic goals with them? What do they say? Is there the option of playing on a club team instead of varsity?

Are you aware of your family’s budget for college? Are any/all of the schools affordable?

We see all kinds of scenarios play out on CC. I think getting specific answers from coaches will help answer some of your questions better than asking random people a vague question.

You seem pretty straight on your educational goals, which is great! I always remind people that sports are fun but your education is forever. If your sport gets cut, you get injured, or something else causes that part of your experience to disappear on day 1, will you still be happy there for 4 years? Can you meet your goals and set out on the path you want for your future?


There is a new NCAA rule that allows a one time transfer without penalty.



The coach at your top school is the best person to answer whether you’d get an admissions bump in RD. You don’t say if the top choice school is d1 or d3. If d3, and you are a d1 level player, it’s likely the coach will be very interested. However, if the coach just does not need your position this year, then they just don’t. Only the coach can tell you that.

Have you started a conversation with ththat school yet? Other schools?


Talk to the coaches! In my experience, a coach worth playing for will have the player’s best interest in mind. For the only school I was offered a recruiting spot at, it was in the RD round–it definitely happens. If the coaches wanted to recruit you, as long as there’s space on the roster, they’d probably be super happy to have you.

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The top school is an Ivy, and I know that if I give up the admissions bump. I’ve talked to that coach and gone to their ID camp, and they seem interested, as do other Ivy coaches. They have confirmed that they can help (not a promise that they would, but that in theory they can) support getting into the school, but not the program. Admissions is clear that if someone to applies the school ED, and gets in and then doesn’t get into the program, they are expected to go. I am a little hesitant to push beyond that, and particularly to tell them I’d plan to transfer if I didn’t get into the program. It seems like something that would make them lose interest? I’m also worried that if I got in to the school and went for a year, I’d get caught up in having friend there, and liking the team, and wouldn’t transfer, and I’d be giving up on a dream. For that school, I’d need a huge amount of aid, but the net price calculators imply I’d get what I need.

My next choice school, I don’t know if I could afford. It’s a D3 that does not meet full need. So, I can’t apply ED. But, I’ve also got SATs that are more than 100 points over the top of their middle 50th %ile and they accept like 2/3 of their applicants. So, I think that if I applied RD I’d get in without the bump, and it’s possible I’d get great merit aid.

Then there are 3 other schools, that I don’t know how to rank. One has everything I want, and guaranteed merit. Their average stats are much lower than the other schools and I’m not sure how I feel about that.

Both of those schools play at a much lower level. Not just that they’re D3, but they aren’t D3’s that shine in my sport if that makes sense. I haven’t reached out to those coaches, but plan to. I can’t visit this summer, but I could set up something for the fall. I need to sit in on some classes.

The other two schools I am interested in are financial safeties. One is an instate school where i could afford tuition that’s probably also an admissions safety. The other is a school that meets full need that I think would be a match, but not a safety admissions wise. If I went there, I guess I’d play club? I haven’t really looked into that option yet.

Part of the issue is that the people I might usually go to for questions are skeptical. My coaches and my guidance counselor both think that if I can get into an Ivy I should go. My parents are clear that I can go where I want within my budget, and they trust me, but they also think that when I get on campus at the schools, and particularly when I sit in on campus, the difference between the level of academics, and the level of facilities, will make me realize that I’d be happier at a top school. They are all encouraging me to also talk to other top schools that have programs that come close, which I will of course do.

I guess my big question is, let’s say that a coach has 30 spots on the team, and he’s got 8 athletes leaving. So he recruits 8 new athletes, gives them admissions boosts, and they get in ED and commit.

Then an athlete who is as strong or stronger as the ones he helped comes to the school. Can the coach then invite that athlete to play too? Or is he limited to some number of players?
Could that athlete compete for a starting spot, or was that spot already promised? Would this cause resentment, if the athlete took a starting spot, or does it not work that way?

This is school/sport/coach specific; it cannot be answered with generalities.

I got distracted typing that. The first part is supposed to say that I know that if I give up the admissions bump it’s a lottery. Kids with my stats get in on their own, but they also get turned away on their own.


How do you do that thing where you quote somone and their words appear in a box?

Also, I guess I’m asking if there’s a rule about how many players a team can have, or if it’s up to school policy. This is for players who aren’t getting athletic scholarships.

Don’t go to a school because someone else thinks you should. They are not you and may not have the same goals that you have. The Ivy League is simply an athletic conference and, while some people think they are the absolute best schools, they may not be the best place for everyone. The quality of the education can be matched elsewhere and if what you think you want to study isn’t available, it may not fit at all.

Is your career objective something that can be done through a graduate program? Would there be prerequisite classes you have to take as an undergrad? Are they available at the Ivy without the specific major?

Have you had conversations with the D3 coach at your second choice? You may be able to ask for an academic pre-read AND a financial aid pre-read. They would give you a better picture of your ability to get in and your parents would see what the financials look like.

Many student athletes end up with 2 lists of schools - one for schools that match athletic criteria and one for schools that match academic criteria. If there are options that overlap, fantastic. If the lists are completely different, than you need to give a lot of thought as to which aspect is most important. No one can answer that except you.


Highlight the text, and then click on the quote box that appears below the highlighted text

Well, there are no athletic scholarships for Ivy League schools or for D3

NCAA has limits and a school may have its own limit lower than what the NCAA allows.


Ummm, sort of? I think I could get into grad school without a degree, but with a lot of work on the side. But one of the majors is an art form that takes a lot of time and practice, and I think realistically, I wouldn’t graduate with the same skill level if I was trying to balance athletics, developing the skill, and a full academic course load at an Ivy in a different major. Also, if it came down to a choice of spending four years doing the sport I enjoy, and not doing the art I love, or four years doing the art I love, and then just playing the sport for fun, I’d choose the latter.

I have talked to him, he’s seen my film. The feeling I’ve gotten is “Are you really interested in us? Because in theory we’d love to have you, but I’m hesitant to use a recruiting slot on an athlete i don’t think I can get.” I think the next step for us is to talk in person, but i can’t do that until the fall. I will ask for a pre-read at that point. Academically, if I wasn’t an athlete, it would be a safety, which is why I figure I could wait and apply RD.

That’s basically what I am doing, except that it’s 3 lists, because of the two different disciplines, one of which is more art, and one that is straight academic.

I know i can’t make any decision until I’ve been on the D3 campuses, and sat in on some classes.

For most position/team sports for D3’s, walking on is not an issue. A D3 coach is unlikely to tell a D1 level player that they cannot join the team. I’d suggest contacting academic D3’s that have your desired courses of study that might be a reach. They may have ED2 or “reserve” at least a tip for you RD if your Ivy does not work out.

By academic D3, do you mean a school that would be a reach or high match for me that has my sport D3? I haven’t found one. There’s the Ivy, and then there’s this other school that would be a low reach, but it’s D1 and does’t have my sport. And there’s a Big 10 school that would be a high match, but I don’t want to play at that level, and probably couldn’t if I did want to.

I don’t think I can apply ED2, if I want to keep the option of the Ivy through RD open. Obviously, what I really want is a “tip” in RD at the Ivy. And I’ll ask, because it can’t hurt to ask. I want to see what the other schools are like first though, and I can’t visit till the fall.

Can’t hurt to ask, but IME, it is very very rare for an Ivy League coach to use one of their limited tips for RD. And even in those rare cases, the athlete is Olympic-caliber.

The other thing to be aware of is that most, if not all, Ivy special programs, e.g. Huntsman, PLME, combined degree, are a ton more work than the “regular” academic program. It is the rare individual that can do that combined with a sport.


Yeah, that’s what I figure. I’ll ask and then they’ll probably say no. I also think that if I tell them my plan is to take their tip for ED, and then leave after a year if I don’t get into the special program, they will look elsewhere. I can’t blame them for that.

So, then the question is, if they offered me a tip and I turned them down ED, and then got in RD, would I be able to play? I realize I need to ask them, but first I think I need to decide if I would just take an ED slot. I can’t decide that until I’ve seen the other schools, which is why I’m asking here.

My understanding is that athletes have done it with this program, but yes, I recognize that I would need to be prepared to walk away if it was too much. I’d rather walk away from the sport than the program. Again, probably not something to tell a coach though.

Again, school/sport/coach specific. As a general statement, if it’s a team that traditionally takes walk-ons, like crew, probably not an issue. If it’s small, niche program, like squash, probably not gonna happen.

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It’s a team sport, like field hockey or lacrosse or baseball.

I know that you don’t want to name the sport, and that’s fine, but my answer (and everyone else’s here) cannot be any more pinpointed with the info given; the coach is the only one who can answer.