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Recruiting 101
Countdown: Should my Application Essay Include Tennis?

It's that time of year when high school seniors are preparing their college applications. You may be applying to multiple schools or may have already picked one school. Regardless, one of the most important pieces you'll enclose in that packet is your application essay.

The essay is a story all about you. It needs to instantly grab the reader's attention. This is more important than ever since this time the "reader" will be deciding whether or not you get to go to the school of your choice.

As a junior tennis player, the sport has become a huge part of your life. It was certainly the main focus when you were writing to coaches and telling them how much you want to be on their teams, but does it belong in the college application essay?

The answer to that question is both "yes" and "no." You can't ignore something that's so much about the person you've become. You've probably spent as much as half your life playing tennis. At the same time, you have to take into consideration the fact that the person reading your application essay is not in the athletics department. He may know nothing about tennis or, even worse, may not even like the sport.

First, acknowledge the fact that the admissions department does not want to hear about your ranking, championships, one-handed backhands or killer serve. Those facts will not only be of little help, they might lead tosomeone uninterested in tennis putting your essay down quickly. That's a chance you don't want to take.

Second, you are better off presuming that the person who gets your essay knows nothing about tennis. While your trophy from a "USTA National" event might be your prized possession, the average person is clueless as to what "USTA" stands for and doesn't want to stop to look it up. (Remember to spell out any abbreviations you use in your essay)

Now that you've gotten down what you need to avoid about your junior tennis playing career, it's time to think about how it can play a part in what you right in your admissions essay.

While the fact that your sectional team won the USTA National Team Championships may mean little to an admissions counselor, the fact that you were chosen - based your sportsmanship and experience - to represent your section is worth including as one of the facts about you.

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Page updated on Monday, March 11, 2019
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