Do you get expelled from college if you get tennis elbow? Is your major going to be “Rocks for Jocks?”
  | By Ricky Becker

I used to get mocked from my friends about that all the time. I was fortunate enough to get admitted to a college (Stanford University) that rejected some of the smartest kids from my high school (Roslyn High School). I wasn’t a moron, but by my own admission, I didn’t have the standard academic profile Stanford usually looks for. I had earned a high enough national tennis ranking that the tennis team was very interested in having me attend and contribute to the Stanford program. I was admitted (with a partial scholarship nonetheless) because in the admissions department’s eyes, there was a contribution (tennis) that could be made to the school by the applicant.

It is has been widely reported that college admissions today is as tough as it has ever been. While the current economy may play a factor in a family’s college decision, admissions requirements remain very high. Many well-intentioned high school students run around after school chasing the extracurricular activities. Most of these clubs, teams and organizations, make a contribution to the school and community. However, how much does it contribute to your college application resume?
Through my own personal experience and as a current professional in the college admissions field, it is clearly apparent that colleges, now more than ever, want that “hook.” The size of the hook grows exponentially, when the high school applicant can take an experience or skill and actually apply it on the university level.
I would highly suggest that when your child is in middle school, take a look at his/her abilities. Is there one that, if pursued, can be that hook to your child’s dream college? Does your child have the potential to play on a collegiate tennis team? Does your child have the potential to take part in the college’s music program? Does your child have the potential to win awards? Will your child publicly reflect well on a college and contribute to a university’s prestige?
I am similar to most families on Long Island. At the end of the day, academics are more important than sports in most cases. It is for this reason, that, as the consultant for many families of junior tennis players, I recommend that the child view their tennis training as importantly as they do their homework. A major jump in a sports ranking is going to open more collegiate doors than a slight jump in academics.
What I am suggesting to you is that you not dispose of your child’s special ability so easily as they get older. Speak to someone with experience in college admissions in conjunction with your child’s specialty to see if there is “hook” potential. If possible, try to obtain guidance from someone without a vested interest in which route you take (i.e., more money from you if you stick with their specialty).

And, no, my academic standing was not affected by any injuries and ”Rocks for Jocks” was a myth as well.

Ricky Becker is The Director of Tennis at Glen Oaks Club.  Ricky also coaches high-performance juniors throughout the year and has been the Director of Tennis at three of Long Island’s biggest junior programs.  As a player, Becker was the Most Valuable Player for the 1996 NCAA Championship Stanford Tennis team and ranked in the top-five nationally as a junior.  He can be reached at, 516-359-4843 or via