"At the schools I was considering, being a recruited athlete doesn't improve your admissions chances much. I had to be able to get into the college with my academic qualifications."
- Hometown: Scottsdale, AZ
- High School: Public
- GPA: 3.92/4.74 (weighted)
- ACT: 35
- Major: Electrical and Computer Engineering
- Goals: Figure out what kind of career I want to have after college.
Extracurriculars: Club softball (player, varsity coach, and team captain); Tri-M Honor Society; hospital volunteer; farm volunteer; Congressional Award for public service, personal achievement, athletic achievement, and exploration; viola player with Phoenix Youth Symphony, Metropolitan Youth Symphony, and school orchestra; president, Latin Honor Society; school newspaper; worked part-time at fast-food restaurant
My commitment to playing college softball drove my application process and determined where I applied. As a recruited athlete, I definitely hit a lot of bumps in the road, but everything turned out fine in the end.
Engineering + Softball = Home Run
I wanted to attend a highly academic college with a strong engineering program and a women's softball team. My high school didn’t have a softball team (I played for a private club team throughout high school), and so I really wanted to attend a college with an established softball program. At the same time, I knew I didn’t want to be a Division I player because I didn’t want sports to dominate my college life, so I looked mostly at schools in Division III.
For many recruited athletes, college admission begins junior year. That’s typically when athletes are contacted by college coaches with offers to play. But athletes try to get noticed by college coaches much earlier—I started contacting coaches in my freshman and sophomore years of high school, sending them emails and links to my film clips to make sure they knew who I was. By junior year, however, I hadn’t received much interest.
The opening pitch – will I get recruited?
Then I took part in an important college showcase, where I had the chance to meet and play in front of college coaches. I was worried that I wouldn’t get any offers to play, but I came home with four verbal offers, from Wellesley, Swarthmore, MIT, and Carnegie Mellon. I was elated!
The next day, I received emails from some of these schools asking me for information about my academic background and extracurriculars, so the admissions office could do a “pre-read” of my application and determine if I had the qualifications to be admitted. At the schools I was considering, being a recruited athlete doesn’t improve your admissions chances much. I had to be able to get into the college with my academic qualifications.
Wowed by Wellesley
When I received an invitation to visit Wellesley’s campus, I immediately scheduled a trip. I didn’t have a first-choice school at this point, but I was very interested in Wellesley because it’s an all-women’s liberal arts college, and I felt like it would be a nice change from my male-dominated, STEM-focused high school.
During my visit, I spent a lot of time with other recruits and the softball team. We got a tour of the entire campus, ate in the dining hall, and observed the team’s weights practice and field practice. At the end of the day, we had a little campfire and spent some time hanging out with the team.
On the second day, we spent most of the morning observing the team’s morning field practice and then I had a brief meeting with the coach. She was super nice and she told me to take my time with making my decision about playing for the team. But I was already sold. In July, I committed to playing for Wellesley and planned to apply for a binding early decision that fall. But, unfortunately, this wasn’t the end of my story.
My parents – and MIT – throw me a curveball
When I told my parents that I had committed to play for Wellesley, they weren’t happy. They felt MIT or Carnegie Mellon would be better places for me to study engineering, and my mother didn’t agree with how liberal Wellesley was, despite my own protests. I was very upset, but even though I disagreed with my parents, I wanted to respect their wishes.
I waited for about a week, and then I called the coach at Wellesley and told her I had to decline their offer. It was definitely a hard thing to do. Next, I decided to contact the coach at MIT to inquire about their offer. But before I made the call, I received an email from the MIT coach telling me she could no longer guarantee me a spot on the team.
Reconsidering Carnegie Mellon
Now I considered my third-choice, Carnegie Mellon. Because I had initially turned down Carnegie Mellon’s offer to play, I was really nervous about contacting the coach. It was a difficult conversation, but she agreed to re-extend my offer. I was so relieved! Of course, I still needed to apply to Carnegie Mellon – and get admitted. I knew that was no small task. I decided to show my commitment to Carnegie Mellon and the team by applying for a binding early decision.
When I received Carnegie Mellon’s acceptance, I was happy that my college application process was over and I could prepare for the next step in my life!
What I learned
Writing my college essay really set in motion a personal journey to gain a better understanding of who I am. Through my essay-writing, I learned how little I had actually experienced in my life compared to how much I thought I had experienced. Applying to college also forced me to evaluate my different extracurriculars, and I discovered that I participated in many of them out of obligation to my parents or to my friends.
The money factor
For my first year, Carnegie Mellon is paying for almost 87 percent of my tuition. I was also an Elks MVS Semi-finalist so I will be receiving around $1,000 per academic year to spend on academic-related things such as textbooks or activity fees. To cover the rest, I’ll be using a combination of my education fund that my parents set up for me and savings I’ve accumulated from working part-time during school. I’ll also be taking out a federally subsidized student loan.
- If you’re interested in being a college athlete, keep putting yourself out there and emailing, calling and contacting coaches. A lot of the coaches can’t even start talking to you seriously until you’re a junior so don’t give up if it seems like they haven’t received or read your emails.
- Don’t only look at the big DI schools. There are many competitive programs in DII, DIII, NAIA, and JUCO. The important part is to find a program that’s the right match for you.
- When attending showcases, pay attention to the coaching style of different coaches and what style you like. Does it feel like a transactional relationship rather than a developmental one? Does the coach seem to genuinely care about you as a person or just as an athlete?
- Be careful how you carry yourself during your games and camps. Be respectful when you’re talking to coaches, no matter what division they coach. Coaches talk amongst themselves and it’s better to be safe than sorry!
How CollegeData helped me on my road to college
College Chances gave me a rough idea of the schools that I could get into and the schools that were reaches. Honestly, learning that some of my favorite schools were reaches gave me a little emotional damage, but it turned out alright. I got into a school that was a reach for me! I also used College Search to find highly academic colleges.