“I’m involved in a lot of activities at my school, but I don’t play a sport. Will this hurt my chances for college admission?”

This is a common question– should an otherwise involved student play a sport?

Team and individual sports allow students the opportunity to learn and demonstrate leadership, perseverance, commitment, coach-ability, etc.– traits colleges value.

But do you HAVE to participate in a sport in high school?

The short answer is NO. Watch this video to find out more. I share some tips on what students who are not interested in sports could do instead (or in addition!) to develop skills and build a strong resume for college admission.

Transcript:

Do you need a sport in order to round out your extracurricular resume?

I’m Megan Dorsey from college =prepresults.com and cohost of “The College Prep Podcast.”

And this is a question I receive on a regular basis: Do I need to be involved in a sport? Does my application, my extracurricular resume have to include involvement in a sport in order for me to be competitive for college admission? And the answer is no.

But sports do a lot of wonderful things for students. First, it’s good for their physical bodies to be active. It helps a lot of students to perform better academically. The physical exertion is tied to a lot of development of mental processes and the ability to focus. We know that students who are committed to a sport over time have demonstrated commitment, the ability to show up on time, engage in practice, to accept coaching from others, to work as part of a team they practice and understand the value of developing their talent over time.

There are a lot of wonderful things that students can get through their participation in sports. But do you have to be involved in a sport in order to be competitive for college admission? No.

I will say that my own daughter participated in tennis for two years in high school until an injury caused her to decide it was time to rethink that. She spent a whole semester with a bilateral stress fractures on her shins, almost ended up in a wheelchair, was on crutches for some period of time and we decided that that was the end of sports for her.

But a lot of students are thinking, I’m just not really athletically gifted. What else can I do to show colleges? These things I mentioned before, all of these , and I would say find an area in which you are passionate. I can see students committing, learning, developing leadership, practicing getting the benefits of responding to coaching by participation in a number of things.

Maybe you’re involved in band or orchestra. Maybe you commit your time to the theater. Maybe you work in journalism on the newspaper or the yearbook for your school. Maybe you are involved in speech and debate now.

All of those things I’ve just listed are organized usually through your high school. So what do you do if you’re a homeschool student? I know sports are handy for homeschool students because there are a lot of organizations, club sports that you can join. You may not be able to join the marching band or the and debate team if you’re not involved in a school. So what else could students who are not in a traditional school who are not interested in those activities do? We’ll look in your community and look at the opportunities that you have. Maybe you spend considerable time, I want to say considerable time. Think about the commitment that you would have for a sport that’s regular practice that’s probably 15 hours a week, easily when you’re in season.

So spend significant time, maybe volunteering at the animal shelter, maybe working on a particular project. Maybe you have your own business, you’re out there shoveling snow or cutting grass. Find a way to make a significant commitment of time to something that helps you develop an interest. A skill helps you work better with others. Think about all those benefits that people might be getting from sports and saying, how can I tailor those benefits to something that’s of greater interest to me?

I don’t think sports are a bad thing. In fact, I have encouraged my own children to be involved in sports, but I don’t think students have to have a sport on their resume when they’re applying to college. What you do have to have is a commitment, a significant commitment of both time and effort, and preferably something that develops your own talents and interests.

I don’t want to see a student play a sport that he or she hates for four years. I don’t want to make you go do something that you don’t like, but find something that speaks to your ability. Maybe you’re going to go sing in your, your church choir and you’re consistently having to practice and improve on that. That’s a wonderful way to develop a talent outside of an organized sport so you don’t have to participate in sports. There are many benefits to doing it, but you do need to go out there and get involved. Over the next couple of weeks, I’m going to be talking about extracurricular activities and how you can improve your choice of activities and really do yourself a favor, not just in the field of college admissions, but in preparing for your major and your future career. By getting involved, go ahead and register to receive my newsletter over at collegeprepresults.com.