Is Athletic Recruitment in College Fair?

In recent years, colleges have become increasingly selective with their admissions. Many elite universities in the United States accept less than 10% of applicants each year. High school students need to have top-notch grades and a variety of extracurricular activities to be qualified for these “reach” schools. 

I worked extremely hard all throughout high school to chase my dream of attending Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. When I arrived on campus, it was evident that the vast majority of my peers were just as passionate, driven, and focused as I was — if not even more. However, many of my classmates seemed to resent the athletes in our grade, as if they deserved to be there less than the rest of us did. People would joke about athletes taking the “easy classes” or say that they had “used their sport to get in.”

I understand that much of the college admissions process is unfair, particularly when donations and legacies come into play (just watch ‘Operation Varsity Blues’ on Netflix). However, I believe that it is also unfair to suggest that someone who has dedicated their entire life to their sport isn’t “good enough” simply because academia is not their primary focus. Being an athlete requires just as much hard work and dedication as studying does — and it is also possible to be talented at both. The athletes I have met at Stanford excel both in class and on the field. 

There is often a narrative taught to young students that in order to be a smart person, school must be your singular focus. However, this is simply not the case. Not only can students be talented both academically and athletically, but athletics can also teach us important values that school does not. For example, captaining the Stanford Equestrian Team has taught me time management, leadership, and commitment more so than any class. Working hard at a sport is not much different from working hard at school, and college athletes should be celebrated for their determination and effort. 

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