Parents of younger children often ask us what sport should their child play to maximize their college admission chances. It’s a great question. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a great answer. That is if you define ‘great’ with a specific one-word answer such as “lacrosse.”
Lacrosse, by the way, is the sport with the highest percentage of high school men playing in college. Lacrosse has the second-highest percentage of high school women playing in college. (Ice hockey had the highest percentage of high school women playing in college due to the small number of high school women’s ice hockey teams.)
But instead of looking at which sport has the highest percentage of high school athletes that play in college, we want young athletes and their parents and guardians to instead focus on their interests.
Generally, it takes many years for athletes to develop the skills necessary to play for their high school’s varsity team. If the athlete doesn’t enjoy the sport and/or have a sincere drive for that sport, that athletic development simply won’t take place.
Additionally, if the goal of the high school sports is to optimize the applicant’s admissions chances with or without a scholarship, then playing a highly competitive sport such as volleyball or tennis (where the odds a high school player will play at a Division I school are 174:1 and 172:1, respectively) might help the applicant’s personal development in demonstrable ways in the college applications, even if the applicant isn’t early competitive enough to play for the college’s varsity team.