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Questions from our Readers


We thought this would be a great time to answer some common questions we receive from families just like yours.

Q: When should a student-athlete reach out to a college coach? A: While it is never too early to reach out to college coaches and get on their radar, the most critical time is typically the junior year. I have found it is best to connect with coaches when you have some information to report, and they can accurately assess whether you would be a good fit on their team or not. This comes in the form of having a complete rugby resume- cumulative GPA, test scores (SAT or ACT if applicable), and experience playing on a Varsity or u18 level team (it’s hard to determine your talent level if you have only played u14). I find the best responses come when the first contact is made by the student and not a parent. Of course, a student can always reach out early to build a relationship, especially if it is a college the student already knows he or she is very interested in. If you happen to be visiting the campus or meeting a coach at a tournament or camp, staying in communication is wise.

Special note: I have noticed that many college programs’ websites are not current, and it can be difficult to locate a contact person. The quickest way I have gotten through to a team is using their social media pages (e.g. Facebook, Instagram). Send a Private Message to them or post it on their wall for a quick response.

Q: How do you know if test scores are “good enough”? If I scored a 27 on my ACT, do I have to retake it?

A: In the current Test-Optional/Test Blind landscape, it all depends on your top college choices. I would only worry about re-taking and/or submitting a score IF your scores are relatively close to what the typical admitted student has previously scored. Of course, my assessment here assumes your GPA aligns with what these colleges typically admit. A great resource to see your chances of admission is your school's Naviance or MaiaLearning portals. Another good one is CollegeNiche. For example, you can take a quick look at CU Boulder and see if you had a 3.8 GPA and your 27, you will most likely be accepted (note: this also depends on other factors too, such as extra-curricular, but I am being broad with this assessment). Another factor to consider is reflecting on your own commitment to prep time. I would not retake it unless you can commit to proper prep to increase your score or you're just wasting your time.

Q: My child took 3 APs last year, which really stressed him out. He wound up getting 2 B’s and 1 C in those courses, his grades in his other classes took a nosedive, and he became overwhelmed and excessively stressed out. I feel he should take some APs off his plate for next year, but he is adamant that this would hurt his chances of admission at his top schools. Please help! (Parent of Junior)

A: The recommendation to take a tough course load is general and is not something every single student needs to follow. Clearly, your child attempted to take a tougher course load than he could handle, and while it’s noble that he did this, a rigorous curriculum has to be taken in a balanced format. I think the focus is now on finding a schedule to set your child up for success. I would support him if he has to dial back the APs to bring his GPA back up (and give him room to take care of his well-being). If there is a topic he is particularly interested in and he wants to take the AP class, I would let him do it. However, I would honestly talk with him and ask, “What classes can you take next year where you are confident you can get mostly A’s and B’s?” and see what schedule he comes up with. Setting up a meeting with his high school counselor would also be recommended - if these are classes your child is really passionate about, are there possibilities to take one in the summer versus during the school year?

Photo Credit: UCLA

Q: What are the main factors you think are most important to look for in a “best fit” college? My daughter is struggling to research colleges because it is very overwhelming to look at the hundreds of colleges out there – her current list seems to be a random list of colleges mainly made up of where friends are thinking of going. Still, it doesn’t seem to make any sense. Any advice is appreciated! (Parent of Junior)

A: There are obviously tons of factors to consider, but the main four that are critical to consider are: Location, Size, Academic Program, and Cost.

Notice that the rugby program isn’t one of my top factors. We all know playing rugby is a big element, but of course, it is very possible that your child could get injured and not be able to play. Therefore, the other pieces are more important for me in finding the right college or university. Has your child visited any colleges? If so, I would ask her what she liked about those colleges regarding the four factors above. You can quickly tell which colleges she would also like or dislike. For example, suppose you were to tell me she loved UCLA but hated Occidental College. In that case, she may lean more towards large, comprehensive public colleges over smaller/private institutions. Cost may also be a factor in comparing those two colleges. Once you have at least a small outline of the features she is looking for, this will help you do more college searches. I would recommend using it. CollegeNiche’s College Search Engine. Good luck!

Q: My son has been invited to play on an All-Star team this year. How important is this for college recruitment?

A: As with many things, it depends. You absolutely DO NOT have to play on an all-star or rep side team to be recruited for a varsity rugby program. Depending on how selective and competitive the college program is, if a high school student plays on a select side team, it simply allows for more games and chances to be seen and evaluated. All-Star teams tend to play at larger, national tournaments (like Tropical 7s or North American Invitational) where players can test their mettle by playing against top players from different regions. Having more options to gather more film is also critical in recruitment. I would look at this as if it is within your budget and schedule to do so. All-star teams are a great opportunity; however, they are not mandatory. There are usually state-based all-star teams and ones run by reputable groups like Eagle Impact Rugby Academy and Atlantis, to name a few.

---------------------------------------------------------------- Do you have questions you want us to address in our next mailbag? Email us at

Winter is a great time to begin test prep - especially if you plan to take a test in the spring? Contact our preferred provider, Arbor Bridge – email to get set up with a free consultation and diagnostic test today!



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