For athletes, the college process is complex

The college application process is complicated enough, but for student-athletes who want to continue playing in college, it can be even more complicated.


The college application process is complicated enough, but for student-athletes who want to continue playing in college, it can be even more complicated. Student-athletes at Berkeley High School, such as senior Aidan Rodriguez, have had to go through a more extensive process than the typical student. 

“As a student-athlete, your college process starts much earlier than others,” Rodriguez said, explaining how it’s vital as a soccer player to attend camps or message coaches to get on their radar. Rodriguez’s process as a soccer player included sending emails, going to sporting events, texting or calling coaches, and communicating with admissions programs. “It’s also essential that players have a highlight video that serves as the first touch point for coaches and sparks their initial curiosity,” he said. 

In terms of applications, his experience was less stressful than the typical student. He only applied to one school, where he had almost a guaranteed chance of getting in. He is currently committed to play for Haverford College.

Recent BHS graduate Luke Swiggett is currently swimming for Denison University. In the middle of his junior year, he began to reach out to coaches for more “ambitious” swimming programs.  “I wasn’t yet fast enough to be recruited by coaches. However, I knew the times I needed to get and was set on getting those times,” he said. By the end of the summer after junior year, Swiggett hadn’t dropped as much time as he’d wanted. 

In addition, Swiggett injured his shoulder during his senior year, halting his training. Looking back now, he realizes that focusing only on his time made him forget the real reason why he swims, and so his shoulder wasn’t the only thing keeping him out of the water. He feels lucky that the coaches at Denison offered him a spot and believed in him. 

“So far I’ve really enjoyed my time here and would go so far as to say that the team culture and coaching rivals top DI schools,” he said.

Sienna Prak-Perry is the captain of the BHS girls lacrosse team and will be playing Division II for Dominican College next year. Her process, however, was not entirely smooth sailing. “My coaches emailed me tons, explaining to me the tools for a smooth process, but with the lack of one-on-one conversations, money to go to camps, and experience, overall the process was stressful,” she said. 

Her process was also different because she joined lacrosse later than many people, so she didn’t have as many opportunities to demonstrate her skills in front of prospective coaches. There were also challenges given lacrosse’s history as a primarily white sport. “Lacrosse being a predominantly white sport, I didn’t have that many connections with people who would give me insight,” she said, also explaining that “It was mostly (her) individual work of emails, performance, and grit that got (her) recruited.”

Even though high school athletes who are prospective college athletes are grouped together, their experiences vary dramatically depending on their circumstances.