Academics

What a Student-Athlete Transcript Shows College Coaches

Your grades have a big effect on your recruiting, and on the college admissions process overall.

No matter how good you are, a coach cannot offer you unless you meet the academic requirements for getting into their school. But I often hear worries about a GPA, or about SAT/ACT scores.

While both of those are important, I actually think student-athletes need to pay more attention to their transcripts overall. And here’s why.

A student-athlete transcript shows more than how you’re averaging.

Your GPA is the starting off point for college coaches due to NCAA regulations. A coach is going to want to know your average pretty early on to make sure you meet the minimum requirements. But once you pass that initial check, your transcript will help them understand how you ended up at this number. Were you strong freshman and sophomore year and then fell off? Did one class seem to bring your entire average down? Instead of a static GPA number, a transcript shows how your grades have evolved over time.

And let’s look at the bonus of a maintaining a consistently high GPA: it will tell a college coach or admissions staff that you have what it takes to handle the rigor of academics while simultaneously competing as a student-athlete, which is a bonus in everyone’s book and will set you apart from those around you competing for the same spot.

The last thing a coach wants to worry about is the academic eligibility of a player he or she brings on their team.

A student-athlete transcript shows your areas of interest.

Your transcript shows literally every class you’ve taken up until the point of printing.

Therefore, if it shows you’ve taken three years of art classes as electives, this can indicate to a coach or admissions counselor that a passion and/or talent lies there. If your list of electives is seemingly all over the place, this could indicate you are still discovering your academic and career interests.

At the same time, if you tell your coach that you’re interested in a pre-med program at their school, but you’ve bombed every biology and chemistry class you’ve ever taken, you could be unintentionally sending a warning sign — unless you can tell the coach how you’ve changed as a student since you took that class.

Your class selection can speak volumes about you, and should not be approached lightly. A poor grade in a challenging class may tell the same thing as a great grade in an “easy” class to an admissions staff.

That is, a bad grade – though it might reflect poorly in your GPA – doesn’t have to break your chances at a certain school. But you need to be able to discuss and explain your class choices and experience both in person and in an essay should you need to further clarify why you took a class and/or how that course effected your semester.

A student-athlete transcript shows your ability to improve.

If your GPA isn’t where you want it to be, never fear; your transcript is a great platform in which to showcase improvement.

This is exactly why a GPA doesn’t tell the whole story. High school is hard.

And I don’t just mean academically.

It is a completely new social setting and way of learning; it’s a completely new world. If your first few semesters were rocky, for whatever reasons, grades on the up are always more impressive then grades on the slump.

And another awesome aspect of this? Colleges take admissions essays into great consideration when deciding whether or not to accept you into their school. If need be, an essay is a great place to explain what went on with your courses and why you possibly didn’t get the start you were hoping for, but steadily improved. While freshman and sophomore grades matter, they are not the end-all be-all.


We can help you manage your recruiting so you can focus on your schoolwork and in practices. The best way to get started is with a recruiting profile.

About the author
Laura Chmiel

Laura Chmiel is a marketing coordinator and a lead writer for NCSA Athletic Recruiting. As someone with a passion for athletics and education, she graduated from Indiana university with a B.S. in Elementary Education. After school, she gained first-hand experience helping student-athletes and their families get to college.