Pro: Athletics create a diverse environment in college
March 20, 2014
College admission personnel have a huge responsibility. Not only do they control the fate of high school students’ lives for the next four years, their choices also influence the personality and experience of the college where they work.
A new group of freshmen can gradually change the focus of a college’s energy, time, and money. If a large portion of students concentrate on service trips and volunteer work, the college will become more robust in that area. Coaches who recruit for their schools and push for student-athletes to gain admission are rounding out the colleges by expanding their athletic programs.
A school known for its rigorous academics is less likely to attract the attention of student-athletes, and if the college just ignores its athletics outright, it decreases the diversity of its applicant pool and admitted classes in future years. Plus, it reduces a college’s overall success and popularity. Most colleges are businesses, and they need to attract student “customers.” To maintain a well-rounded campus that is attractive to the highest possible number of potential applicants, the college must recruit student-athletes.
Also, just because a student is recruited for athletics does not mean that they uninterested in academics. Professional athletic careers do not last forever. According to RAM Financial, the “average career of a Professional Athlete is anywhere from 3-5 years.” Retired athletes will need the education that they get from college to continue to live comfortably in life. These days, a college education is almost required to find a job outside of the sports arena.
Being recruited for sports and accepted into the college means that the admissions office believes you can not only contribute to the sports aspect of the school, but also succeed academically. According to Star Athletes Online, a website targeting high school athletes seeking to be recruited by allowing them to make personalized pages, coaches want “high character/good attitude, above average grades and test scores, [and the ability to be] good athletes” in students they recruit, not just athleticism.
The pool of student-athletes is vast, and coaches seek the well-rounded athlete in addition to the all-star athlete. Each school has different criteria for evaluating a student, but ultimately, decisions are made based on what is best for the school, whether that means general diversity or expanding a particular program or area. Sometimes “better” means an academically-inclined student with little interest in playing collegiate sports, and sometimes it means a strong athlete with weaker academics.
College is an experience. It is not just about education, though that is its primary purpose. It is a time to grow, to learn, to expand horizons, to make connections, and to explore in a way that is not available as a high schooler. Colleges want to provide the opportunity for higher education to everyone, and if some students are seeking to further their sports careers at the same time, the college works with the students to their mutual benefit. The student-athlete has secured a college future and a chance to continue high-level sports, and the college improves its athletic program and its student diversity at once.
Kathy Deaver is a Sports Editor for The Patriot and jcpatriot.com.