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Unfortunately, their sailing qualifications isn't all that high on the criteria list that the school is judging them by.


A while ago, I read an article in the Post about how some families and students felt cheated--that the top schools in the country had sent them viewbooks and encouraged them to apply, then rejected them. To what extent were you involved in recruiting these applicants? Do you feel any responsibility (or feel that the school should have more responsibility) to admit those who the school recruits?


I'm new to the whole admissions game and have been pretty careful about it, partly because I don't have instincts yet about what kind of students have a shot at getting in. I don't think I would feel good about encouraging students to apply who aren't likely to succeed. My approach to recruiting is a responsive one -- talking with students who have already put the college on their lists and giving them information about the sailing program. I tell them what I know about admissions, which isn't very much, and offer to be a friendly guide to ask questions of the admissions people that they might feel intimidated asking.

I wouldn't say it's unethical, but I think active recruiting of kids who probably won't get in is unkind. I don't want students to get their heart set on this place and then get denied. That's already going to happen without my involvement. I don't want to add to it. Plus, it's a waste of my time.

One good thing about college sailing is that not every school has a program. That means students who want to sail have choices that are quite distinct. The other coaches talk about losing kids to Wi.lliams, Amh.erst, Midd.lebury, but those schools don't have sailing teams (to speak of). Tuf.ts, Conn College, and Dartmo.uth are the schools that I pay attention to, but each of those schools provides a pretty different experience to its students, so it's not hard for a kid to put them in preferential order based on things other than sailing.

My recruiting goals: I want to be on the radar screen of every kid who is choosing a school and knows he or she wants to sail in college. I want our program to be visible and respected. I want every sailor who visits to go home excited about the sailing team, talking to their friends about the venue and the boats and the kids. And I want all the kids who get in to choose to come.

Since when does being smart or talented have anything to do with college admissions? It's about name, who you know, and demographics. Yale is certainly one of the top schools when it comes to admission competitiveness standards, but do you really think you're in the top 1/10th of the top 1% of students in terms of brains or talent? Well, maybe you do...but, do you think George W. Bush is? Or his genius daughter?

I do agree though, one's sailing ability should be the determining factor in college admissions. Just imagine how many really interesting, ethnically diverse students Bowdoin would have in that case. Since they already don't ask for SATs, maybe they should just ask the value of your yacht(s) when you apply.


Oh, come on, Anonymous at 10:03. Did I anywhere say anything like that? Did I even suggest that I thought the admissions department was admitting the wrong people? All coaches want talented, experienced kids coming into their program, but we also want kids who will succeed academically and we want the school to be a lively, interesting, diverse place. Sometimes there's a friendly tension between the two desires, and I have a candid and funny relationship with one of the admissions officers. I think they're doing a good job, even if I gripe.

There are lots of ways to find fault with me based on what I actually say. No need to pretend I'm saying things I'm not.


thanks for answering my question. I thought your answer was thoughtful and interesting (of course, I wouldn't expect any less from your blog!)


"I wouldn't say it's unethical, but I think active recruiting of kids who probably won't get in is unkind."

If you want to look for ugly motives, to be more "selective" than other schools drives up a school's ranking. "Selective" is determined, at least by US News, based on the percentage of applicants a school accepts. If a school accepts very few applicants, even if it busily recruited tons of people who were unlikely to get in, it scores well as selective.

For the non-ugly way this happens, often a student will seem like a good prospect based on one metric -- particularly test scores, which are released to universities -- and the school will encourage him to apply, then discover in his application that he had very bad grades or no extracurricular activities and just tested well.

Scheherazade, this is the sixth or so nasty comment Anonymous has left that I've seen. My favorite was the one on your story about getting your hair braided that derided you as a clueless racist. Kudos on restraining yourself from exasperated retort until now. I would have started a brawl with the first one. If admissions are based entirely on "name, who you know and demographics," I do wish my schools would kick out all these horrid little need-based scholarship students. I'm a nobody too, but at least my test scores weren't more than property values would dicatate. It's so graceless of middle and working class students to allow us to pretend to any progress toward equal opportunity.


Very interesting post for our family since we have a sixteen-year-old son who's interested in engineering and music (cello and string bass) and wants to attend a college with a good, but not hyper-competitive team. (The reasoning is that, since he doesn't live in a place with youth sailing programs, he might not be able to find much of a good spot on some of the most established team, so a decent program with a good coach would be all he'd need.)

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