I have been overwhelmed by the reaction to my recent article Tennis Really Can Pay for College. I’d like to start by saying thank-you to everyone who shared the article.
I have been asked to expand a little bit further about how your tennis and good grades go together to get your bills paid for college. First of all let me start by saying that the colleges have certain standards that have to be met to even be considered for most of the academic scholarships, and no matter how good you are at tennis those minimum standards have to be met. The SAT and ACT scores are very important and I advise you to put in the time studying for them and take them at least three times (the third time seems to be your best score). Once you have your best scores in hand and your excellent GPA you have all the tools you need to sell yourself to the tennis coach.
Let the coach know what kind of student you are and let him/her know what academic scholarships you qualify for. The coach will be thrilled at the prospect of getting a great tennis player while saving some of his recruiting money. You can also ask the coach if he/she knows of any other academic scholarships you may qualify for. The coach can help you get in touch with the scholarship office and help you make the appropriate contacts.
Your ACT and SAT scores are very important and a good score (anywhere from 28-31) will qualify you for a scholarship. A 31 or above is required for most of the really big scholarships. The best piece of information we received was that each college offers a residual ACT that can be taken at the college for their use only. The score from that ACT can be used to qualify you for scholarships at their college. This was how my son received his scholarship. He was one point shy of the required ACT score but went to the college and took it again, and received the required 31. Call the admissions office of the college you are interested in and see if they offer the residual ACT. The tests are graded and available to college almost immediately. It is often easier to find the time to take these tests than the national tests, especially with the busy tennis schedule.
When you are writing your essays for your scholarships don’t forget to draw upon your tennis experiences. It will give you something to write about as well as let the college know you are more than just another smart person. The ability to get good grades while performing at a high level athletically is impressive for the college. While some kids have a dozen different activities they participated in on their applications you may feel you are lacking because you didn’t have time for these things while playing tennis. Don’t fret, just explain your situation. Rather than getting involved in many different things you chose to follow your passion and put all of your time and energy into becoming the best you could possibly be at tennis. This is impressive for the schools because it shows that if you are passionate about somethings such as your tennis, your grades, their school, you will be dedicated to it, you are not just trying to pad a resume.
When it comes to volunteer work and work experience you can draw on your tennis again. If you string rackets for your tennis club, you are an entrepreneur that runs your own business. If you help with the tennis clinics or middle school tennis you are a volunteer tennis coach. If you are not volunteering at the tennis club you belong to it is a good idea to consider it. You will be helping others with their tennis while giving yourself the work and volunteer experience that you need.
Good luck in your search for college and the money to pay for it. I hope this helps a little in the overwhelming process. Remember to use your tennis experiences as selling points in your application experience. Draw on what motivated you during tough matches, your values and sportsmanship you learned on the court, your dedication to practice and perfection, all of these things are great topics for those never-ending essays that have to be written. When you are speaking to the coaches and scholarship boards draw on your ability to perform in high pressure situations and always be that professional well-mannered tennis player. Most importantly remember that you are a valuable asset to their school.