Each year, Ivy League coaches use approximately 250 admissions spots on track and field and cross country recruits. Typically the divide between men's and women's programs is fairly equitable, leaving approximately 125 spots for each gender. Here is a list of factors to consider if you are hoping to compete for and attend an Ivy League school.
1. START EARLY
Based on my 20 years as the head coach at Columbia University and recent conversations with many current Ivy League coaches, I estimate that approximately 75-80 percent of recruits apply with early decision. As a result, it is imperative that you get an early start on the recruiting process. Because of recent NCAA contact rule changes, coaches are now able to start calling you on September 1 of your junior year. Therefore, it is imperative that you ensure that you are on coaches' radars prior to the start of your junior year.
2. DON'T BE DISCOURAGED
The idea of pursuing an Ivy can be somewhat intimidating due to impossibly low admission acceptance rates and the total cost of education. However, both areas of concern may be surprisingly less of a factor than you initially imagine.
It is not impossible to get into an Ivy League school; I cannot tell you how many recruits and future matriculants were told by their high school guidance counselors that they had no chance of being accepted and were discouraged to apply.
A great majority of outsiders grossly underestimate the value of athletics in the admission's process. If you are a great athlete, you will be able to overcome many perceived academic deficiencies. There are student-athletes being admitted to Ivy League schools who score in the 1100s on the SAT and 25 on the ACT.
Ivy League Schools can be affordable; it is possible that an Ivy can be among your cheaper financial options. When Harvard, Princeton, and Yale changed how they calculate their financial aid awards a few years ago, Ivy League schools became very affordable for many prospects. Quite often while I was at Columbia, we would be among the cheaper options for many of our recruits. Most, if not all of the schools have financial aid online calculators that will give you an early indication of the cost of attendance. Do not be discouraged by the initial price tag. Approximately 60 percent of students attending an Ivy League school receive financial aid. On average, those students receive over $45,000 in grant money.
3. DETERMINE IF YOU ARE A GOOD FIT ACADEMICALLY
Ivy League schools are significantly better athletically than most people realize. In my last season at Columbia, we were ranked sixth in the NCAA national cross country poll. Over the last 10 years, 12 Ivy League student-athletes have become NCAA Division I national champions. Most of the programs post their recruiting standards online. Generally speaking, you are going to have to be very close to the marks listed below to get serious attention from an Ivy League coach.
If you are an athlete at or just below the standards listed below, you are going to have to be a very, very strong student.
EVENT MEASUREMENT ESTIMATES: BOYS/GIRLS
- 100: 10.90 12.20
- 200: 22.00 25.00
- 400: 49.00 56.50
- 800: 1:54 2:14
- 1600: 4:15 5:00
- 3200: 9:20 11:00
- 110/100H: 14.4 14.4
- 300H: 38.5 44.0
- LJ: 22 ' 6" 18' 6"
- TJ: 47' 38'
- HJ: 6' 7" 5' 6"
- PV: 15' 11'9"
- SP: 56' 44'
- Dis: 170' 140'
- Jav: 190' 130'
- Hammer: 185' 155'4.
RESEARCH SCHOOLS -- HOW THEY USE THEIR SPOTS
In addition, each program is allotted a different number of recruits, and how they are able to support each year. I would suggest looking at past recruit class announcements to get a general idea of how many spots they may have.
WHAT IS A "LIKELY LETTER"?
WHAT IF I DECIDE THE IVYS ARE NOT FOR ME OR I AM NOT OFFERED?
A COUPLE COMMON SENSE DOS & DON'TS
DO stay the course if an Ivy League school is what you want. A coach's priority list will change significantly throughout the course of the fall as recruits start saying no, decide they cannot afford the school, or are deemed inadmissible by the admissions office.
DON'T get a "C"! Remember, your admissions process will differ slightly from that of a non-supported applicant. As an athlete, they will look for reasons to take you as opposed to reasons not to. Getting a "C" on your transcript makes it significantly more difficult for a coach to help you.
DO make every attempt to visit each school that you are interested in and to meet with one of the coaches. Meeting with a coach allows you the opportunity to sell yourself. If you are a borderline recruit, it is imperative that you become more than your PR and SAT score.