Here is our list of strategies to increase your chances of getting in to an Ivy League university:
Study like you’ve never studied before
One way that the Ivy’s weed out candidates is by eliminating those who have not excelled academically. If you are aspiring to study at an Ivy League university, your marks need to be impressive. Find a tutor, ask your teachers for extra credit assignments, and make sure you get plenty of sleep (or at least some sleep. High school is hard).
Prepare well for the SAT
Some of you will have taken the NBT and if not, you will be familiar with the concept of standardized testing. Don’t underestimate the SAT though - there are helpful study guides online, and you should spend some time doing several SAT practice tests before the main event so that you are familiar with the way that the questions are asked. SAT questions are designed to trick you, and you’ll need to practice to feel comfortable with them.
Think about your extracurricular activities
Because there are thousands of students who are applying with extremely high marks, one of the things that admissions officers look for are impressive extracurricular activities. Things like volunteering, part-time work, or interesting hobbies are all things that you should include in your application and will provide you with potential material for your admissions essays.
Speaking of the essay
Aside from your marks and the SAT, your essays are one of the most critical parts of your
application. Spend a lot of time on these, and don’t just put your CV in essay form. Rather, think about what you’re passionate about, and remember that you don’t have to have “change the world” dreams to make your essay appealing. All the reader wants to see is that you’re passionate about impacting whatever niche you choose to study in. If you’re stuck coming up with ideas, email us! We have a team member on hand who can help you conceptualise your ideas and edit your essays to perfection.
Testing and the NCAA: If necessary, retake the SAT or ACT. Create yourself a profile on the NCAA website and check if you have taken all the correct courses. The admissions testing policy for colleges vary, with some requiring the SAT and ACT optional section. To be safe, you should always do the optional test sections.
Resumé: You want to constantly be updating your resume. This is handy when filling out applications and preparing for admissions interviews.
Apply: Create a profile on the Common Application website and fill out the application carefully. Ask your parents or school counsellor to look over your essays critically. The essays are one of the most important parts of the application and will be the admission officer's opportunity to differentiate you from the other applicants. We also are able to provide you with first-rate essay guidance, so feel free to reach out and ask us for more information.
Scholarships: Check with each university for financial aid eligibility requirements, as well as application deadlines as they do vary. Speak to the sports coaches and see what scholarships they may be able to provide you with.
Choose your College: Tally all of your college acceptances, analyse the various factors that may sway your decision such as cost, scholarships, degree choice, college rank, athletic division and then confidently make your choice by sending in your deposit.
Make sure you explore leaderships pursuits that interest you but at the same time will add value to your resume. For example: Organise a fundraiser for the Soweto Golf Club.
Ask two teachers and your coach to write your letters of recommendation. You should provide them with a list of your academic, sports and community service achievements which will help them write better letters.
The SAT and ACT scores matter, so talk with your school counsellor about which one to take. We recommend taking the SAT in Grade 11 and again in grade 12. If you want to study a STEM degree, the SAT Subject Tests are recommended.
Building your college list:
Once you have received your test scores, convert your high school marks to a GPA and start researching college requirements. Once you have a list of colleges that you are eligible to attend, narrow this list down to schools that have your top 3 desired degree fields. For assistance, you can speak with one of our agents, or there are many apps to aid your research.
From May to September USA colleges go on summer vacation. This is the ideal time to visit Universities. To do a college campus tour go to their website and contact the admissions offices to book a tour. During the tour make sure to talk with your guide and have a list of questions to ask during the info session. This will give you a good feel for the school, and don't forget to send a thank you email.
Be sure to clean up your Facebook, Instagram and other social media profiles. College coaches and admissions officers will review the content, and if deemed to be inappropriate, offers and scholarships will be rescinded.
Make sure to keep an eye out for the grade 12's to do list next week.
Check your Planning:
Look at the NCAA website and make sure you are compliant with the core subjects required by them. Ensure your marks are constantly improving, colleges look at grade progression.
Did your academic performance improve over your high school career or did you start to slack off?
Don't be shy to ask for help. Teachers and coaches are there to help and will appreciate your efforts to improve. Make sure your schedule is balanced. Are you following your calendar, if not, you may be overtaxing yourself, and it is bound to be counter-productive! A balanced schedule is an invaluable tool in time management.
Put together a Resumé (Summarised CV):
Write down your sports and academic achievements, your hobbies, work experience, community service and extracurricular activities. You also want to provide contactable references with numbers and email addresses.
Begin filming all your sporting events. Video footage is one of the primary ways USA College coaches will see you perform. Having a good highlights package will be invaluable during the recruitment process.
Make the most of your Holiday's:
Students who work, volunteer, play sports or take online classes are in a league of their own. Find an activity that builds on your interests, and you will be head and shoulders above your peers.
Make sure to read next weeks list for Grade 11's.
Subject Choices: Seek advice from teachers and councillors on which subjects need to be taken for the degree you are interested in. Athletes who want to study and play sport in the USA need to be aware of the NCAA subject requirements, making bad choices here can derail a college career. Academics are important in grade 9, as USA colleges don't just look at your grade 11 and 12 marks but they look at your GPA from grade 9 to 12.
Get into the habit of having a schedule: Most students have smartphones. Use the calendar on your devices to set daily reminders where homework, sports, reading and relaxation times are scheduled.
Reading: College application essays often ask students who their favourite authors are and what publications they are interested in. We advise students to read books, newspapers, magazines and blogs. Choose what engages you and remember to look up unfamiliar words. When done, write a short summary and describe how you felt and why you felt that way.
Get involved: Stanford University recently came out to South Africa and gave a talk at Crawford College in Sandton. One of the biggest parts of admission into Stanford was not the marks but the student's involvement outside of the classroom. Top colleges are not looking for top academics only; they want to see students developing their talents and interests outside the classroom. You need to have 5 area's of involvement, here is an example: U15-A soccer team, 83% academic average, 25 hours of community services per year, a member of the school play and writer for the school blog. Your high school extracurricular activities may be the detail that catches your dream college's eye.
Make sure to look out for our Grade 10's 'To Do List' on Friday.
Aspire Atlantic recently took 12 high school soccer players to the Future 500 Soccer Camp in Philadelphia, USA. What we discovered, is that soccer in the USA is growing at a rapid rate and that college soccer is now a massive attraction for players from all over the world.
The tour was a unique experience for the boys. They got a first-hand taste of what life would be like as a college athlete. They were not put up in hotels; rather they stayed at the Eastern University dorms. The camp was four days of non-stop soccer and educational seminars, which is similar to university preseason and the camp councillors were all Student-Athletes who gave their insight into the life of a college athlete.
The most impressive part of the camp was the coaches interaction with players. At standard recruiting events, the boys will play, and coaches will watch. This was not the case. The coaches were tasked with training and preparing the players for their games, and they would even make substitutions. This unique experience is unlike any other I’ve seen, and the exposure is invaluable.
Players normally want coaches to approach them about recruiting opportunities. The truth is coaches are busy; they have thousands of potential players and for a coach to approach you, you will have to be exceptional. The best way for a player to be scouted is to approach the coach, introduce yourself and make a good impression; however, nerves get in the way and players are too shy. At the Future 500 ID Camp, coaches had hands on interaction with the players, allowing the boys to build a relationship with them, before starting the recruitment conversation.
Our boys have had fantastic responses from colleges. But the biggest lesson the players learnt was how to be more of an international player. They now understand how they need to play to study at the collegiate level. In the next 24 months, Aspire Atlantic and Alan Marcus will be working to develop a programme to coach soccer players in a manner that will enable them to compete globally. The game of soccer is changing, and we do not want to be left behind.
Many of our students are heading off to the USA to start their freshman year. So we thought it is important to provide them with some tips on what to pack, what to expect when moving into a dorm, will there be enough storage space and a whole bunch of other important aspects that you should know before embarking on your journey.
It can be quite daunting when packing for college, where you pack your entire life into two suitcases. When it comes to your dorm life, keep in mind that you’re moving into a small room with very little storage space and you will most likely be sharing with another person, so it is important to take only the things that are necessary.
Tips when Packing:
- Clothes: If you are going as an athlete, you will receive lots of university team gear. Do not over pack on the athletic ware as you will receive lots when you arrive. Take only the necessities.
- Bed linen: There are fantastic stores such as Walmart and Target that sell linen, and the prices are extremely affordable. Therefore, do not waste space by packing towels and linen, rather get it when you arrive.
- Toiletries: Just like linen, you can get all your toiletries in the USA. Take only the essentials and get everything else when you arrive.
- Seasons: Think about where you will be situated, If you are going to a warm area of the country, there is no need to take heaps of winter gear. The same goes for a colder climate, do not pack excessive summer clothes for a cold environment. Remember the seasons are the opposite when travelling to the States from South Africa.
You are not allowed to cook in the dorms as all freshman eat in the food halls, but sometimes freshman get small bar fridges and microwaves in their rooms. If a small fridge and microwave is something you would want, contact your college and see if one will be provided, if not, speak to your roommate before arriving and see if they would like to split the price and share. Sometimes your roommate will already have these things. These items are not necessary, but it is nice to be able to store fresh milk, juice and snacks in your room.
Once you are in the States, settled and your freshman year ends, there comes the problem that you will not want to take all your belongings back home with you, only to return it after the summer break. You have two options here, 1) You can rent a storage unit for three-months 2) Ask your friends who are staying through the summer if you can store your belongings at their place. This saves money and there are always people hanging around for the summer.
Make sure that you do not pay full prices for textbooks. You can find them online or at a local second-hand book store for much cheaper and make sure you sell them back after the semester ends. If you want to save money, you can rent textbooks for the semester, just make sure that you look after them.
Other Cool Tips:
Be sure to listen during orientation, speak to your student advisor about setting up a bank account, use your student discount wherever you can, join groups and clubs during the first few weeks, grab all the free stuff that is handed out on campus and purchase some wheels to get around. By wheels, I mean a skateboard or a bike, as this will save you time. Most bike stores let you sell the bike back to them when you leave, so you can get some cash back, which is always a plus for students.
Remember that all freshmen are in the same boat. You are all new, nervous and excited. Make the most of every opportunity, meet as many new people as you can and allow yourself to enjoy the experience.
Have a safe journey and all the best!
Choosing the correct subjects can make all the difference for aspiring athletes.
Choosing subjects in grade 9 can be daunting. Not all students know at 14 or 15 years old what they want to do when they get to university, so making sure that you set yourself up as best as possible is very important. When looking at what subjects to take leading up to matric, there are a few things you should know. Choosing your high school subjects wisely can play a major role in your USA athletic chances. There are three sporting associations; the NCAA, NAIA, and the NJCAA. The subject requirements set out by the NCAA, if followed, will ensure that you qualify for all three sporting associations, giving yourself the best opportunity to win a scholarship.
USA Universities and Athletic Associations take your Grade 9 to Grade 12 marks into consideration. The NCAA requires South Africans to take; Mathematics, English and a second language for four years. They also require 2 Social Sciences and 2 Natural Sciences over the course of grade 9 to grade 12. Maths Literacy is not accepted by the NCAA but is accepted by the NAIA and NJCAA.
The following subjects will give you credit when selecting a Social Science: History, Geography, Religion, Archaeology, Psychology, Anthropology, Sociology, Economics, Business Studies. South African Business Economics does not qualify.
Here are three ways to ensure social science compliance:
1. When selecting subjects, you should choose from History and Geography. These subjects are the most commonly chosen subjects by students when trying to qualify for NCAA eligibility.
2. If your high school combines History and Geography into Social Science in grade 9, you will get one credit. If they are listed separately on your report card, It does not matter that both subjects were taken in the same year, you will get two credits.
3. If it is too late to take these required subjects in school, an online course can be taken. These courses are eight to twelve weeks long and are completed online. Contact us for more information regarding this.
When thinking about recruitment, there is a lot one must take into consideration; how to best market yourself, get the best video footage and create the perfect resume. One of the most underrated recruiting tools is the ability to connect with coaches on a level that makes them instantaneously want to know more about you. Here are some tips that will help you to best connect with a coach and grab their attention:
Send personalised emails to each coach
By personally addressing each coach by name and writing a short email about how much you love their program and why you think it would be a great fit for you, shows the coach that you haven’t just sent out the same email to 50 different coaches. It allows the coach to see that you have done your homework on the team and you know what their university and program is about.
Keep your email short and sweet
A coach does not have time to hear about your life history in your sport. They want something short and to the point and with all the relevant information ready. Make sure you give a short introduction about yourself, give a brief outline of your main achievements and then attach additional information that the coach will want to see.
What does a coach want to see?
Coaches receive hundreds of emails from athletes everyday, so you want to make sure that you include the right information. The most important thing to include is the link to your video footage. A coach wants to see what you can do, not just hear about it.
Here is a list of items to include in your email:
- Link to Video Footage
- Attached Resume (Summarised CV)
- Coaches Contact Details
Thank the coach
At the end of the email thank the coach for taking out time to look at your information. By thanking them for taking the time, you will set yourself apart which may be the difference in a coach responding to you or not.
Here is an email template for inspiration:
Dear Coach ________,
My name is _________. I am a utility player currently playing for the __________ Club/Team. I attend _______ High School and will be graduating in November of 20XX. This past season I was selected to represent my Province in my age group. Please will you take a second to review my video: www.watchmyhighlights.com
I have been exploring my college options, and I am very interested in playing for you at ________ University. I have been watching your team for a few years now and I am inspired by the players and all that they have achieved. I have also looked at the academic options at _________ University and believe that this is the place where I would be able to make the most impact for a college team. Please see the attached documents which include my video footage, my resume, my coach’s information and my achievements.
Thank you for taking the time to look through my information. I believe that by joining your program, we will be able to win many national championships together. I look forward to hearing from you.
- By Sarah Harris
When I think about my final college and Olympic year's preparation they leave me with contrasting emotions. The two years, whilst have similarities, their outcomes were stark opposites. My Senior year at college was exciting, fun, and successful, but my final year of Olympic preparation was hard, full of tough decisions and riddled with disappointment. Both years have moulded me into the individual that I am today and both years have valuable life lessons strewn throughout them.
Last year of Olympic preparation came with loads of disappointment for me. The fairy tale ending did not occur and my life-long dream was not met. I did not end up going to the Olympics and although the disappointment of that year felt overwhelming at times, I learnt more through that disappointment than I ever could have imagined. A lot of people, when faced with disappointment, react in two ways; 1) They blame other people, their circumstances and make excuses or 2) they learn from the experience and look at the journey rather than the outcome. While I may not have achieved my overall goal, the journey was worth it. The lessons learnt were invaluable, and I will never say “what if”. This hard lesson was not a failure, merely a bend in the road and it helped me achieve many great things since.
Lesson I learnt:
1. To be Grateful
As a college athlete you are doing something that most people dream of doing. Do not waste a day and be grateful for all these experiences.
2. Nothing Worth Having Comes Easy
Nothing worth having comes easy, If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Work hard, go the extra mile and do not give up.
3. Live in the Moment
Regardless of the outcome, make sure that you soak up each moment. Make friends and cherish the memories you make.
Attending College and playing International Water Polo moulded my life in ways that I will cherish forever. Through the highs and lows, I made the most of my opportunities. Make sure that you live your journey to its fullest. When given opportunities, grab them with two hands and be grateful to have the privilege of being able pursue your dreams.