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Before a college coach decides if he / she is going to recruit you, he / she looks at your GPA, core courses, and SAT/ACT scores to make sure you meet his / her school’s admission standards. If you are way below the minimum requirements, a coach will not waste his / her time recruiting you, regardless of how much you could help their team. 

Coaches know that athletes who don’t perform in the classroom are more likely to become academically ineligible or flunk out at the college level. And that may be more 19 risk than a coach is willing to take. If a coach has only one spot left and he / she must choose between two athletes of equal talents, he / she will always select the better student. 

Improve Your Grades and More Schools Will Be Able To Recruit You 

Say for example, you have a 2.6 GPA and 1100 SAT Math + Verbal score. While those marks are average, you’ve automatically taken yourself off the recruiting lists of many top academic institutions. Imagine how many more opportunities you will have if you meet the admission requirements of all schools in the country, or at least a high percentage of them? 

Set high goals for yourself in each class you take. Do not settle for mediocrity. Be disciplined with your homework and strive to reach your full potential. If you’re receiving B’s right now, go for A’s. Ask your teacher for extra help, hire a tutor, form a study group with your friends, or take a preparatory SAT/ACT course. Take Advanced Placement (AP) classes if you can qualify for them, especially because high AP test scores can translate to college credits. Showing the admissions committee at a college that you are doing your best to challenge yourself goes a long way. 

Do whatever it takes to improve your academic standing and do not believe for one second that grades are unimportant. Nothing impresses a college coach more than athletes who work just as hard in the classroom as they do on the court. 

Manage Your Time Effectively

Since your daily schedule is already filled with classes, sports, and extracurricular activities, it’s important you set aside a block of time each night for homework and your college search. Make it a priority and be disciplined. You will reap the rewards for many years to come. If you think you have a busy schedule now, just imagine what college will look like with more hours of practice, video sessions, lifting and conditioning, and not to mention tougher classes. The sooner you learn to manage your schedule effectively, the better you will do in college and beyond. 

Develop Other Interests and Get Involved in Extracurricular Activities

College admissions officers look favorably on students who have multiple interests and are involved in a wide range of activities. Find an organization at your school (i.e. school newspaper, Drama Club, Band, Foreign Language Club, etc.) that interests 20 you, and get involved. Also, you may want to consider volunteering a few hours each month at a local charity or non-profit organization. 

More than one school will take an applicant with a 3.5 GPA who’s been involved in extracurricular activities and community service, over an applicant with a 4.0 who’s done nothing else. A mother in Connecticut told us about a classmate of her son’s who was his class’s valedictorian…and was turned down by Yale and Brown because he didn’t have any extracurricular activities. 

Don’t worry about trying to become a “Renaissance Man or Woman” at age 17. Not many high school seniors are the perfect, well-rounded student. Just show a passion for one or two or your strongest interests. Do not simply build a resume that lists every club in your school. What impresses admissions officers is proof that an activity is a theme in your life… think quality, not quantity. 

Work to Increase Your GPA 

If you did not perform well in your freshmen year of high school, you may be given the benefit of the doubt if your grades go up in your sophomore, junior, and senior years. Your goal should be to graduate ranked as high as possible in your class. And, by all means, avoid “senioritis.” Don’t think that you can coast as soon as your applications are finished. Colleges will notice if you drop an AP course, take an easy schedule, or let your GPA slide in your senior year. Some schools will even pull admissions offers from a student who performs poorly his/her senior year. 

Hire a Tutor or Enroll in A SAT / ACT Preparation Course 

Ask your guidance counselor for suggestions to raise your college entrance exam scores. Kaplan and Princeton Review offer courses you may want to consider. Taking a prep course will boost your confidence tremendously. Some students hire private tutors or purchase computer study programs. If these options are too expensive, there are lower cost options such as books that are produced by companies such as Kaplan and Princeton Review as well. These books come full of practice tests, sample problems and study tips. 

If you have to, take these exams several times until you are satisfied with your scores. Regardless of which exams you take, don’t assume a higher-than-average score will guarantee acceptance to your dream school. Test scores are not weighed as heavily as most people think they are, although very poor scores can be difficult to overcome. It’s just another part of the package. 

Take Advanced Placement or College-Level Courses 

College admission officers will view you as a motivated student if your high school transcript features some honors and AP courses. Your GPA may slide a little, but it’s worth it to take advanced classes in areas where you have a strong interest and/or skills. 

For example, if you’ve always received good grades in math, take AP Calculus and AP Statistics. If writing and reading are your strong points, take AP English. Remember, your transcript is the most important piece of your application. Many admissions officers would rather see you challenge yourself than get straight A’s in easy courses. Many colleges “weigh” AP classes by scoring them half a letter grade higher than “regular” course for a student’s GPA. 

Spend Your Summer Productively 

Admissions deans don’t look kindly on summers spent relaxing at the beach or on the couch, but otherwise they’re surprisingly open-minded. Get a summer job or internship and make the most of each experience.