Best Sports for College Admissions

August 1, 2022
By AdmissionSight

Best Sports for College Admissions

What are the best sports for college admissions? What are the most advantageous sports to play when applying to colleges? Many high school athletes wonder how their participation in sports will affect their chances of getting into college, whether or not sports will give them an advantage, and whether or not they will be able to continue playing sports while they are enrolled in college. This guide will cover some of the best sports for college admissions and how your participation in athletics can potentially affect your admissions, as well as what you should do to prepare for the process of being recruited.

Being a member of a sports team won’t necessarily help your chances of getting into college; in fact, it only plays a role in the admissions process for a very small percentage of students. Having said that, it has the potential to give students who excel in their chosen sport a significant advantage.

We will go over the different paths that students can take in order to become college athletes and know the best sports for college admissions. These paths include recruitment, preferred walk-ons, and regular walk-ons. We will also talk about the various college athletic divisions and how those divisions influence the way athletics are considered during the admissions process. First, we’ll address some concerns that are shared by all athletes, and then we’ll answer some questions that are frequently asked about the process.

Various Categories of Athletes

Recruited Athletes

An athlete who receives an invitation to join a university sports team on an athletic scholarship is considered to have been recruited. The student-athlete and his or her parents collaborate with the head coach of that team to determine whether or not the student has achieved the necessary academic benchmarks to be admitted to the university.

Young woman holding her books in front of the college library.

Even athletes who are recruited have to contend with fierce competition because they are just one of many high-level athletes on the field. When there are two athletes whose abilities are roughly comparable to one another, the admissions offer will be extended to the athlete who has the higher grade point average, test scores, and overall candidacy.

Preferred Walk-Ons

Universities do not have an unlimited number of available athletic scholarships; therefore, they are frequently forced to make challenging choices regarding the students to whom they will award financial aid. Sometimes, when coaches do not have enough scholarship money to offer a place to an athlete they view as desirable, that athlete is given slight admission boost and remains eligible to earn a scholarship in the years to come. This occurs when coaches do not have adequate scholarship money to offer an athlete they view as desirable.

As is the case with recruited athletes, preferred walk-ons who have stronger applicant profiles have a greater chance of being accepted to the university they intend to attend. Preferred walk-ons have the opportunity to join the school’s team, but there is no guarantee that they will be awarded a scholarship as a result of their participation.


The application process for walk-on athletes at universities typically does not involve the participation of coaches or athletic departments. After they have started their freshman year, they are required to participate in open tryouts so that they can be evaluated for their athletic potential. After that, the coach will decide whether or not to extend an offer to the student to play for the team.

Group of student walking and laughing in front of a building.

Participating in a sport on a club or intramural team is an additional choice that can be made by athletes who prioritize keeping up with their sport above all else. The vast majority of schools provide students with opportunities to participate in extracurricular sports beyond the official teams.

NCAA Divisions

The number of schools competing in a given sport, the total athletic budget, and the number of available scholarships all factor into the NCAA‘s divisional system. These divisions make it possible for schools of varying sizes and with a variety of expendable resources to compete fairly with one another.

Scholarship opportunities are extremely sport-specific. For the sport of football, for instance, a DI school is allowed to provide a maximum of 85 scholarships, while the maximum number of scholarships for golf is 4.5. These figures typically reflect the level of participation that a school has in a particular sport as well as the amount of revenue that a school receives from competing in that particular sport.

First Division

These educational institutions host the most significant number of students, maintain the largest budgets, and provide the most scholarship opportunities. Over 165,000 students are DI student-athletes. The Southeastern Conference, the Big Ten Conference, the Pacific-12 Conference, and the Atlantic Coast Conference are all Division I conferences. The schools in the Ivy League compete in Division I, but they have a mutually binding agreement that prevents them from awarding athletic scholarships.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has eligibility minimums for student athletes’ academic achievements, but these are significantly lower than the average grades and test scores of most admitted students. The policies of individual schools determine how high your grades and test scores need to be in order for you to be accepted. When it comes to academic requirements for football players, the University of Alabama sets lower standards than Notre Dame.

What schools require in terms of grades also differs by sport; the top quarterback in the country will receive more leeway than the top rower or fencer in the country. The Academic Index Score is important in this situation; a team as a whole needs to hit certain averages, so having both a strong athletic program and a strong academic program can help you break a tie. You will be required to submit forms to the Eligibility Center in order to verify that your grades are satisfactory and to give colleges permission to inspect them.

The admissions office does give coaches some influence, but the amount of influence they have and the number of athletes they are able to recruit depends greatly on the school as well as the program. In most cases, the DI coaches have the most influence over the admissions process.

Only students attending DI and DII schools have the option of committing to a particular school. When a student submits their enrollment commitment, they are legally obligated to attend the institution to which they have applied if they are accepted there.

It is analogous to making use of ED. Official Visits are another form of recruitment that Division I schools provide for prospective student-athletes. These visits enable the school to bring an athlete to campus and show them around the school’s facilities.

The Second Division

This category includes both public and private institutions of higher education that are considered to be of more modest size, typically having fewer than 10,000 students. All of the athletic scholarships that they have to offer are equivalency scholarships, which means that the total amount of scholarship money that is available is distributed more fairly among all of the athletes.

The majority of athletes are awarded a portion of a scholarship, while only a few exceptional athletes are granted the full scholarship. DII student-athletes make up approximately 110,000 of the total student population in the United States.

Students enrolled in DII will also be required to fill out forms in the Eligibility Center. These forms will allow colleges to check the students’ grades and ensure that their grades are adequate. However, coaches can still have a significant impact on the admissions process for these schools, even though they typically provide less academic leeway than DI schools do.

The Third Division

Division III (DIII) is the largest division in collegiate athletics. It consists of 195,000 students, 446 universities, and 44 conferences. Students who participate in athletics make up approximately 25 percent of the total student body at DIII schools, on average. Although DIII athletes are not eligible for athletic scholarships, 75 percent of DIII athletes receive some kind of scholarship that is not related to their athletic pursuits.

In addition to this, DIII athletes have a graduation rate that is 5% higher than that of other student-athletes.

While coaches prefer to have concrete knowledge of a student’s grades before offering admission, DIII students are not required to fill out forms in the Eligibility Center; however, many students still do so because of the preference of coaches.

There are some DIII institutions that have adopted language used by DI schools, such as talking about “commitments” and “official visits.” In either scenario, neither of these are official; they are merely semantic distinctions. Even if you make a verbal pledge to attend a Division III school, that does not mean the school will honor your pledge until you are accepted, and you are under no obligation to do so even if you do.

When it comes to determining who gets admitted to DIII schools, DIII coaches have the least amount of sway. While they are still able to advocate for the candidates of their choice, the degree to which this influences admissions officer varies greatly depending on the school.

Common Considerations

When choosing whether or not to participate in athletics while attending college, there are a few things that all collegiate athletes should keep in mind. The first and foremost consideration is how much time and effort the athlete is willing to put into their chosen sport. Even D-III schools frequently require two practices per day, and athletics will consume the vast majority of your time if you attend one of those schools.

That is not to say that you won’t be able to participate in other activities, but the amount of free time you have will be restricted.

Students talking in the stairs.

The next step in the process of compiling your list of colleges should involve creating two distinct lists. The first will be comprised of schools that you are interested in attending solely because of their academic reputation, while the second will include schools that you are interested in attending solely because of their athletic reputation.

In addition, when you apply to schools, you should make sure that you enjoy the school in general and not just for its athletics program. If you suffered an injury that ended your athletic career and prevented you from playing again, would you continue to attend the school? You ought to have a positive impression of the university as a whole, with the athletics program serving merely as one component of that.

When watching athletes compete in real-time, coaches frequently have the goal of identifying secondary performance factors in their athletes. They are aware of how talented an athlete you are based on your statistics, but they are curious about your other characteristics.

How do you respond when you are coached? How should one conduct themselves while spectating? How do you interact with the referee, the other players, and the other people competing against you? The coaches want to evaluate how well you will function within the program that they are developing as well as whether or not your coaching philosophy will mesh well with theirs.

You should do research on the specific programs that you are interested in, to find out what their specific requirements are, and to determine what your chances are of getting accepted into those programs.

If a team has recently seen a large number of its starters graduate or switch positions, they will be in a better position to fill more positions and maintain greater continuity in their program. The particular position you play in a team sport may also be a deciding factor; for example, a team may have an abundance of depth or be in dire need of a goalie.

You will be able to have a more accurate assessment of your chances at a particular school if you conduct this in-depth research.

There are some businesses that make the claim that athletic recruitment is their area of expertise. These businesses almost never prove to be worthwhile. They are able to assist you in producing a highlight reel that is very impressive; however, the stunning visuals and music selection are not what coaches look for when they are recruiting athletes. It would be a better investment for you to concentrate that time and money on the academic side of your candidacy.

Lastly, you need to be aware that the odds are not in your favor at this point. There is a significant gap in ability between the best high school team and a team competing at the DIII level. It is not our intention to dissuade you from submitting your application as an athlete; rather, we want to stress the importance of ensuring that you do not put all of your eggs in a single basket.

Best sports for Ivy League admissions

Best sports for Ivy League admissions. What are the most desirable sports for getting into Ivy League schools? The ability to compete at a high level in a sport can be a decisive factor in the selection process for colleges. If a college or university is interested in recruiting you as an athlete, you will be accepted into the institution without having to complete any additional steps. You still need to create a compelling transcript, as well as a distinctive application theme and story, even if you are an exceptional athlete.

The Methods Used in Athletic Recruiting

The process of recruiting athletes can be broken down into two primary stages.

The first step in the process of finding potential recruits is for college coaches to engage in extensive travel, review local news columns, and conduct other research. They search for notable players (such as all-Americans, state and national champions, and others like them) and determine whether or not the academic standards of the school they represent are met by those athletes.

The second step, which follows the discovery of potential recruits, is for coaches to painstakingly compile a list of athletes who are exceptionally skilled and who fulfill the other eligibility requirements of the school. Students who have low academic achievement will not be admitted to top colleges, regardless of how talented they are in athletics.

Various Aspects That Play A Role In The Recruiting Process For Athletics

When reviewing the college application of a prospective student-athlete, admissions officers are typically concerned with determining whether or not the student will be successful academically. Therefore, your profile for college admissions needs to demonstrate that you are a dedicated student who is capable of balancing the rigorous course load at a prestigious institution.


When reviewing the admissions profile of an athlete, admissions officers not only check the student’s grades, but they also place a significant emphasis on the athlete’s overall course load. Athletes who are able to keep their grades in the upper brackets despite taking rigorous coursework demonstrate that they are academically capable of competing at the highest level. If you take on a rigorous course load that demonstrates academic strength, determination, and commitment, your chances of being recruited will be significantly increased.

Group of students smiling at the camera.

However, the admissions officers will understand if you aren’t quite as strong in other areas if athletics is your way of distinguishing yourself from other applicants. This is especially true if you have devoted countless hours to practicing a sport and are truly exceptional at it. The majority of top-tier athletes are required to give their full attention to their sport, which means that many of them do not have much spare time for studying and getting ready for college entrance exams.

No matter what your circumstances are, you should always keep in mind that top schools have rigorous academic requirements. Even the most incredible athlete will have difficulty gaining admission to a top school if they have a poor academic history.

If, on the other hand, you commit yourself to a rigorous course load, get excellent grades, and continue to excel at your sport, you will be a much more competitive applicant.

Student Background

Football and ice hockey are the most common sports for student-athletes at top universities who struggle the most academically. The majority of athletes who have poor academic performance are middle class because there is a bias against applicants who come from privileged backgrounds.

In point of fact, regardless of their athletic prowess, athletes who go to private or college preparatory schools, keep their grades in the middle of the pack and do nothing else to distinguish themselves have a much lower chance of being admitted to a prestigious university than students who go to schools in communities with lower incomes.

Group of students smiling in the camera.

Although this is a prevalent pattern, it does not necessarily imply that talented athletes who come from wealthy families cannot be recruited or that the process will be more challenging for them; after all, the circumstances surrounding each student are unique.

Scholarships Awarded to Athletes

There are many prestigious educational institutions that present athletic scholarships, but none of the eight colleges that make up the Ivy League do so. The amount of financial aid a student receives from an Ivy League school is determined solely by the student’s demonstrated financial need, whereas other highly ranked schools frequently give athletic scholarships to their top athletes.

As a result of this policy, a significant number of exceptionally talented athletes who otherwise would submit an application to an institution from an Ivy League choose instead to enroll in a university that is not as competitive and that provides athletic scholarships. In order to choose the right school for you, you will need to conduct an in-depth evaluation of your current level of financial stability.

Athletes playing football in the field.

Keep the aforementioned considerations in mind as you work on crafting your athletics-based college admissions profile. Remember, above all else, that your athletic ability needs to be coupled with a strong performance in the classroom in order to be successful.

If you want to get into an Ivy League college, you should follow these admissions strategies because they will make you stand out to both college coaches and admissions officers.

Best sports for college scholarships

Best sports for college scholarships. Which sports offer the best opportunities for financial aid in college? Despite the fact that athletic scholarships aren’t always easy to find and also thinking about what is best sports for college admissions. In point of fact, only 7.3% of high school athletes in the United States go on to compete in some sort of sport at the collegiate level.

There are approximately 7.4 million athletes competing at the high school level, but only approximately 545,000 athletes compete at the college level. In addition, a significant number of collegiate athletes do not receive financial support in the form of athletic scholarships. There are fewer than 200,000 scholarships available across all levels of the NCAA, including Division I, Division II, Division III, NAIA, and Junior Colleges (Division III schools provide academic aid instead of athletic scholarships).

Nevertheless, the chances of making it onto a college team are significantly better — or worse — depending on the sport that you participate in. The following is a list of sports in order of how difficult it is to earn a scholarship for them.

Which of the men’s sports makes it the least difficult to obtain a scholarship and best sports for college admissions?

The number of people who play lacrosse in high school is 111,842, and the number of people who play in college is 14,202. As one of the best sports for college admissions,this indicates that 12.7% of high school players are selected to compete at the collegiate level. At the moment, there are a total of 440 men’s varsity lacrosse programs across all divisions, including 72 teams competing in Division I.

Only three percent of college lacrosse players come from outside the United States. This is likely due to the fact that the sport is not widely played in countries other than the United States. Because of this, you won’t need to worry as much about competing with companies from other countries. Keep in mind that the East Coast is where the majority of the recruiting action for college lacrosse occurs, so keep that in mind.

Despite this, the sport is expanding at a rapid rate and is rapidly gaining popularity across the country.

Ice Hockey: There are 35,210 people playing ice hockey at the high school level, and 3,687 people playing at the college level. As one of the best sports for college admissions, this indicates that only 10.5% of high school athletes are selected to play at the collegiate level. There are a total of 163 varsity men’s ice hockey programs across all three divisions, with 60 of those programs being in Division I.

In addition to that, international athletes make up 21 percent of the college ice hockey player population. This indicates that you might have to compete with recruits from Canada and Europe for spots on the team’s roster. One last thing to keep in mind is that hockey coaches do a lot of recruiting in the state of Minnesota, as well as in the states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and New England.

If you are not originally from this area, you will need to put in additional work in order to get a coach’s attention.

Baseball has a total of 491,790 high school players and 56,423 college athletes competing at the collegiate level. Another belonging to one of the best sports for college admissions, indicates that 11.5 percent of high school athletes are selected to play at the collegiate level. There are 1,675 varsity baseball programs across all divisions, including 297 Division I teams. There are also 297 teams in the lower divisions.

In addition to that, only 0.8% of college players come from countries other than the United States. This eliminates the need for you to be concerned about competing with athletes from other countries for spots on the roster.

Which women’s sports are most likely to result in the awarding of a scholarship and best sports for college admissions?

Ice Hockey: There are 9,599 students participating in ice hockey at the high school level, and 1,736 students playing the sport at the college level. Belonging to the best sports for college admissions for women, This equates to only 18.1% of high school athletes being selected to play at the collegiate level.

There are a total of 108 varsity women’s ice hockey programs across all divisions, with 35 of those programs being in Division I. In addition, 26.9 percent of players who compete in ice hockey at the collegiate level are international athletes. This indicates that you might have to compete with recruits from Canada and Europe for spots on the team’s roster.

Female student studying using her laptop.

The number of people who play lacrosse in high school is 93,473, and the number of people who play in college is 11,780. Sharing with the men’s best sports for college admissions, this means that 12.6% of high school players are able to continue their careers as athletes in college. There are 115 teams in Division I out of the total 562 varsity women’s lacrosse programs that are offered across all divisions.

Because of the lack of popularity of lacrosse in other countries, only 0.9 percent of college players are athletes from outside the United States. This eliminates the need for you to be concerned about competing with athletes from other countries for spots on the roster. Keep in mind that the East Coast is where the majority of the recruiting action for college lacrosse occurs, so keep that in mind.

Despite this, the sport is expanding at a rapid rate and is rapidly gaining popularity across the country.

There are 388,339 people playing soccer at the high school level, and 36,251 people play at the college level. As part of the best sports for college admissions, this equates to 9.3 percent of players from high schools being selected to play at the collegiate level. At the moment, there are a total of 1,591 varsity women’s soccer programs across all divisions, with 333 of those teams competing in Division I.

There is a 4.9 percent of college players who compete for their countries internationally. Although it is common knowledge that some college programs place a higher emphasis on international recruits, the majority of teams continue to focus on recruiting players from within the country.

College athletes often have the option of combining athletic and academic aid to cover the costs of attending college. Over 3.7 million college scholarships and grants, totaling approximately $19 billion in available funding, are listed as being available on different scholarship websites.

The athletic program and admissions office of a college can direct you to the various types of financial aid packages that are made available by the institution; however, these are just the tip of the iceberg. If you continue to maintain a satisfactory grade point average and remain in good standing with the institution, the majority of academic scholarships will continue to be awarded to you throughout all four years of your undergraduate education.

Now if you’re a student-athlete and are looking for guidance in getting entry into one of the elite universities in the country? We’ve got you covered! At AdmissionSight, we have over 10 years of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process, including our athletic recruitment program.

AdmissionSight will assist you throughout the entirety of the college admissions process in order to increase your chances of gaining entry into your dream school.


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