Eligibility: The Key for Aspiring College Athletes

By Eric Dobler

If you are an aspiring college athlete, eligibility is a key word for you. If you’re not eligible, you won’t be able to play the game that you’ve grown up loving.

So, what do you have to do in order to be eligible?

 For college eligibility, you will need at least an overall C average in your college prep courses. This means that the A or B that you earned in any electives will be removed from your GPA.

 That’s right. Removed.

Colleges are only interested in your college prep, or core, courses: English, math, science, social science and foreign language. Once an admissions counselor has reviewed your high school transcript, he or she will recalculate your GPA based on grades in these core courses only. For all intensive purposes, this recalculation will be done on a 4.0 scale with extra weight added to any honors, AP or IB courses. Let’s call this your core GPA and if you don’t know what your core GPA looks like, ask your school counselor to go over it with you. At the very least you will get a chance to see what an admissions counselor is going to see and you may even be surprised at just how differently your GPA looks when this happens. As a former admissions counselor, I’ve had to recalculate countless numbers of high school transcripts and have denied admission more times than I care to count, student-athlete or not, after a recalculation produced a core GPA that wasn’t strong enough for admission.

Not only is it good for you to know what your core GPA looks like and to understand the college application review process a little better (information is power, right?), but there are other benefits as well.

If you needed a reason to put in more of a concerted effort in your courses, you now have it. Sometimes just adding an hour or two of time each week to your studying and homework can have such an incredible impact on how much you actually learn. The more you learn, the better your grades will be. The better your grades, the better your chances of admission. And when I say an hour or two of time, I don’t mean plopping down on the couch with an open text book in front of you while you watch Monday Night Football. The time you spend on homework and studying needs to count - just like the time you invest in practice and working out. If your preparation for a big game is sloppy, chances are you will not do well and your team may lose. It’s the same in the classroom. The time you spend studying and completing homework needs to be of the qualitative variety so that your performance on assignments, tests and quizzes reflects your true ability.

A second point to consider is that, while a coach may be recruiting you, the admissions office has the final say on who is actually admitted. Therefore it may be worthwhile to schedule an interview. By doing so, you create the opportunity to present your case and talk about your interest in the school – not just as an athlete but as a student as well. Be prepared to talk about what you are learning in the classroom and how your grades are improving as you learn how to be a better student.

The bottom line here: you have to bring it in the classroom just as intensely as you bring it on the field, the court, the track or the pool. You have to do the work and put in the time. If you don’t understand a concept or an assignment, you need to ask for clarification. If you are struggling, you need to get help from a teacher or a tutor. If you don’t understand how to navigate the college admissions process, talk to your school counselor or your friendly neighborhood college consultant. These will be the expectations in college so why not start practicing them now?

If you have any questions about the college admissions process, please use the comment box below. You can also email me directly at [email protected] – I would love to hear from you!

Eric Dobler is the president and founder of Dobler College Consulting. Find him on Facebook.

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  1. [...] Eric Dobler, a college admissions consultant from Cheshire, Conn. recently contributed an excellent post to Connecticut Sports Law entitled Eligibility: The Key for Aspiring College Athletes.  [...]

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