Using Baseball to Get Into College: The College Application Essay

Outline of baseball player with words insideWhen people think of using baseball to get into college, they’re usually thinking about a coach offering a full-ride scholarship to play on the team. For those who still hold such delusions, time for a reality check. But there are still all sorts of ways baseball can help you get into college, including providing content for your college application essay.

Now a lot of students have been told to stay away from writing about their sports accomplishments, stuff about leading the team to the championship or what it meant to be team captain. And that’s probably good advice. I can imagine it gets pretty boring for admission officers after the first 100 or so essays.

That’s not what I’m talking about.

If you are actually applying to a school that requires you to submit an essay as part of your application then you better be able to do a little thinking about your activities to come up with something to write about.

Fortunately for you, you play baseball and there are baseball movies, baseball books, baseball food, and baseball music. Lots of people have been thinking about baseball for over 100 years. Just pay a little attention to the media and you’ll start hearing all sorts of baseball analogies. Don’t know what an analogy is? Time to go look it up.

And the quotes. Just google baseball quotes and see how much has been said about the game. Everybody has something to say about baseball. How hard can it be for a player to think about all of these observations and relate it to his experience? Is it true? Does it really matter? Does it affect your game?

Then there are the people. Everyone has heard the Yogi Berra jokes. Most players have encountered their share of unique individuals playing the game. What have you seen on the field? What have you realized about certain players, positions, or plays that other people around you haven’t? Or maybe they just wouldn’t agree with you.

Writing a college application essay about baseball doesn’t require having some profound experience while playing the game. The last thing my son wanted to do was to write an essay about how great of a baseball player he was (he wasn’t). He ended up writing about the commonly used analogy about judges not making the rules by defining the strike zone, that is creating laws, but rather acting like umpires and just calling balls and strikes, just interpreting the laws.

My son’s a catcher. He has always found this statement very amusing. His normal reaction is that the people who make such a statement have obviously never been to a baseball game. Surely you can see where this is going. His college application essay covered his experiences with a variety of umpires and coaches and the effect on the strike zone.

I doubt his essay would show up in books on how to write a college essay or an example of an essay that got someone into Harvard. But it showed that he was able to think about baseball in terms other than just winning or losing and that he understood that even with rules, life isn’t always fair. It definitely put a different spin on comparing yourself to an umpire. And then there was the alligators in the sewer conversation that seemed to strike a memorable note.

In any case, think about the possibilities: a good batting average versus success in life; stealing bases; appealing to umpires; unspoken rules; how and when coaches decide to change pitchers; little league parents; all-star selections; the value of keeping a book; selecting team names; moneyball; pre-game rituals; and much more. All you need to do is take a little time to consider the perception of baseball in general and how it intersects with your experience. There’s at least one good essay in that intersection that has nothing to do with winning a championship.

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