Do colleges value athletic achievements over academics?


Ebenezer Shim

Survey of 138 students from Dec. 12 to Dec. 15, 2017.

Meredith Prud'homme

According to the Huffington Post, 60 percent of the University of North Carolina’s football and basketball players read below the eighth grade level, and 8 to 10 percent read at or below a third grade level. This statistic begs the question of whether colleges value athletic accomplishments more than academics when choosing which students to admit and how much scholarship money to offer.

Senior Skye Howes of Allentown verbally committed to Franklin & Marshall College for Division III swimming, and said she believes colleges look for a balance in academics and athleticism.

“Colleges value both; if they can get a smart varsity athlete it’s a done deal. Well-rounded students are the best applicants,” Howes said.

Howes values academics and looked for schools that meet her drive to succeed outside of her career in swimming.

“I am using my swimming just to get into schools that match my competitive academic drive,” Howes said.

Senior Marie Schobel of Manasquan committed to Pennsylvania State University this fall for Division I swimming and believes that swimming has opened doors for her.

“During the college decision, athletics is more important. Because of my athletic ability I was able to go to more academic schools, and coaches can push my application. Once I’m there, academics are far more important than athletics,” Schobel said.

Junior and field hockey player Kiera Gill of Wall plans to apply to colleges next fall. She thinks that although the situation differs for each athlete, coaches do take academics into account along with athletics.

“Most coaches like to know [an athlete’s] test scores before they scout them athletically. However, I also believe that depending on how big the school is and how oriented it is around sports, coaches could be less focused on grades and test scores and more interested in the amazing athlete.”

CHS guidance counselor Sandra Gidos is very familiar with the college application process. She believes that academics are key to getting into college when athletes want to apply.

“I don’t think they value one over the other. I think you need to meet certain criteria of the academics in order to also be in that college,” Gidos said. “Showing that you are an overall involved student is important.”

Success in both athletics and academics is something that colleges look for. Being a well-rounded student as well as an athlete may just be the key to getting those acceptance letters and scholarship offers.