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Athletics in Admissions
Fatima Rashid '19 Staff Writer
February 24, 2017

In order to be admitted Deerfield, how well an applicant takes a test or if he or she can pass an 8th grade physics class is not enough anymore. A student must have talents outside the classroom in order to distinguish him or herself from other applicants, and it seems that many of the admitted students here at Deerfield have been selected for their complementary athletic talent.

Credit: Hannah Kang

Year after year, thousands of students apply to Deerfield in hopes that they’ll find a new home in the Pocumtuck Valley in the fall. Although this is only the case for a select few who are supposedly the most qualified, the question for those who do not obtain a spot is, “What was I missing?”

Head of Admissions Mr. Charles Davis said  that rather than athletic talent, Admissions considers personal integrity and character to be “the starting point from which all other conversations can go forward.”

Admissions is collaborating with the new athletic director, Mr. Bob Howe. Mr. Howe said that he is “helping coaches be more strategic as to how they recruit students and think about their teams; meaning it’s not just about feeding them, so to speak, to help them in the short term.” Mr. Howe has given athletic coaches and director of the arts the “opportunity to put a finer point in on programs that have greater needs.”

Admissions is also continuing to working closely with program leaders of other cocurriculars. An applicant is more likely to be admitted when multiple adults from different programs are advocating for the same candidate. Mr. Davis clarified that the specific programs are “of less importance to [me] than the fact that [the applicants] can work in those multiple areas.”

The question remains as to what is actually prioritized and what Admissions likes to see in a candidate. Mr. Davis pointed out that there is no ideal candidate that Admissions favors, but that the school rather prefers students that have a “breadth of interest.” He elaborated on this idea, saying “[The Admissions office] likes applicants who actually have multiple areas where they can contribute, acknowledging their contributions inside the classroom but also outside the classroom.”

Mr. Davis explained that the Admissions Office has used various analogies to think of enrollment over the years. At one point, there were “buckets” labeled with categories such as diversity, athletics, or art, into which candidates were placed. But this method confined students, as an athlete can be a musician as well as a student who brings diversity. When speaking of his personal analogy about admissions, Mr. Davis commented, “I would like to think of the ideal candidate like a target with a bull’s eye. The center is their personal character. As you branch out, you start to attend to their intellectual capacity, their redeeming talents, any other interesting life experiences that they bring to that office. Athletics live in one of those middle rings. It’s not in the center, but it’s also not in the perimeter.”

Admissions is not just looking for athletes; it is looking for students who are able to show talent in multiple areas. With the help of Mr. Howe and different program leaders, Admissions will be able to accept a healthy ratio of athletes to artists in the upcoming future. Therefore, there will remain a stable balance of the strength in every program. It’s not about making buckets anymore; it’s about hitting the right target.