If it’s your dream to play college sports for a major university, you need to know what is important, in the process of making yourself stand out in the eyes of college recruiters. On the average, only 5 percent of applicants to major schools make it in on an athletic scholarship; this number is even smaller for the most prestigious universities. You need to absolutely maximize your chances.

Do I Need to be a Standout Athlete?

Not necessarily. If you look at the information available on college recruiting websites, you’ll start to notice that college athletic recruiting is more about the applicant’s background, academic record and contribution to the community, than athletic success per se. Simply making a team is an accomplishment

and, beyond that, a single individual doesn’t have much to do with the team’s record. What the recruiter is looking for is not so much your athletic ability (you are presumed to have that) but your potential contribution to the university as a student and an athlete. That said, college soccer recruiting, baseball recruiting, football recruiting, etc. all do consider your athletic accomplishments. But you needn’t despair if your team went 4-7 this year or you are only a .245 hitter.

What Academic Standards do Colleges Look For?

Two acronyms: GPA and SAT. The first, your grade point average, is an indicator of your academic work in general. Too low of a GPA will either automatically disqualify you or put you very low on the totem pole. You need at least a 2.5 GPA (B-minus average) to be considered, and 3.0 (B) is a more realistic lower limit. You also need good SAT scores; you generally need to score at least above the 50th percentile, nationwide. Of course, the more prestigious the school to which you apply, the fiercer the competition, and the higher scores you need. The days of getting into a good college with a lousy academic record just because you scored fifteen touchdowns are gone, so the first priority is to study for your SAT and get good grades.

I Want to Get into an Ivy League School on an Athletic Scholarship

You’ll be fighting an uphill battle. Ivy League football recruiting, in particular, is extremely competitive, and the procedure and selection process are very rigorous. To mix a metaphor, you need to put your best foot forward, just to get your foot in the door. The Ivy League Academic Index is a measure of your academic achievements and sets the standards for athletic recruiting in the conference. To even be considered for an athletic scholarship, you need to score high enough on the Index that you are at roughly the 70th percentile of all high school students, academically. Of course, the higher, the better.

Whether you’re applying to an Ivy League or some other school, you need to be armed with information. Visit college recruiting websites to get a better idea of how the application process works, and find out all the do’s and don’ts. Remember, you’ll need to do everything you can, if you want to get into that prestigious school—and above all, keep your grades up.