Apr 15, 2021

Playing sports significantly enhances international students’ experience at U.S. high schools - here are why!

As a major sports country, top American universities value candidates who show a strong athletic record in their application. The Washington Post released a report of enrollment data from Top U.S. Universities last year that showed Varsity Athletes accounted for up to 19% of students successfully enrolled in Princeton University, 16% for Harvard University and 15% for Massachusettes Institute of Technology.

If you’re passionate about playing sports, there’s a good chance that you can participate in an American high school’s athletic team, be it soccer, golf, tennis or running. Read more to see why and how international students can play sports in a U.S high school and enrich their study abroad experience.

High school students’ athletes are highly favored by top U.S. university admissions officers

There’re various ways in which U.S university admissions officers can check for your athletic participation within your applications - do not forget to show off your sports achievements when applying for your dream university!

1.     Sports participation records in Common App

The university admissions officer will review each extracurricular activity record that you fill in the Common App. Specifically for sports activities, the university wants to know which sports you have participated in, the level of participation, whether you are a core team member, and whether you have achieved any competition achievements. They even look into weekly training time, annual season and more These details show the university admissions officer who you are and whether you’re a good candidate to be part of the university’s student body.

2.     Sports participation and grades

American high schools have very strict requirements for students who want to play in sports teams. For example, at Red Bank Catholic High School of Amerigo New Jersey, students are illegible to participate in athletics in the next semester if they have 2 F=s and 2 D=s, or 1 F and 3 D-s in their grades.

If their performance drops at the end of each quarter, student athletes will be temporarily banned from participating in training and competitions until their grades are improved. University admissions officers are familiar with the academic requirements for student athletes, and when reviewing application materials, they will recognize that these students usually have better grades and academic performance than an average candidate.

3.     Sports participation and leadership

From the university admissions officers’ perspective, students who have participated in sports and high school athletic teams competitions have a proven track record of teamwork and leadership skills. These students work hard to achieve their goals, and so they’re usually more ambitious, persistent, and determined over the course of time. Admissions officers also regard student athletes to be better at handling pressure and failure. For these reasons, it’s easier to impress university admissions officers if you have a strong track record for sports and competitions when you’re still in high school.

Sports help international students create a better study abroad experience

Playing sports can significantly shape the study abroad experience for international students.

First, participating in a sports team can bring a sense of belonging for international students. Through training and competing with your teammates, international students build up a stronger community and support system surrounding themselves when they study abroad, especially for high school students who are not used to living away from home.

Furthermore, the American culture is huge on sports. Every American talks about their favorite sports and teams, even if they are not athletes. Playing and understanding sports help international students engage better in day to day conversations with their American friends and teachers, even creating a special bond within their peers. Last year, Amerigo New Jersey international students and their friends watched the Super Bowl - America’s biggest sports event of the year - together at the dormitory. It was a memorable experience for our students to get familiarized with the American culture.

US sports

International students can also explore their passions and interests in sports by participating in different athletic teams, an opportunity that might not be possible in their home countries. Golf and hockey are two sports that Amerigo international students enjoyed trying in America.


Red Bank Catholic High School in New Jersey has a highly competitive girls' golf team who frequently won titles in the local league games. The Red Bank Catholic golf team members were selected for the Jersey All-Star team. Alumni Taylor Totland helped Red Bank High School win the Jersey League Tour three times during her season, and became a professional golfer after graduation. The school also takes students to participate in multiple regional and state tours every year to help them earn points and improve rankings.


Minnesota has always been famous for hockey in the United States. Cretin-Derham Hall High School of Amerigo Twin Cities is a 3A-level hockey high school. The school High School has a long history of hockey and has cultivated many candidates for the US national team, as well as at professional level teams. Alumni Ryan McDonagh not only helped the school team win the state championship during high school, but after becoming a professional player who went on to win the Stanley Cup, the highest award of the North American National Hockey League.

How do international students participate in U.S. high school athletic teams?

Before joining any team, international students need to understand that as sports training and competitions participation take up a lot of after-school time, student athletes are fully committed to their teams and to improve themselves. This can be challenging at times for teenagers, however it also pushes students to improve their time manager skills and balance their academic and extracurricular achievements. Eventually, playing sports in high school can significantly improve international students’ university application portfolios and increase their chances of getting into Top 50 U.S. universities.

U.S. high school sports

To be able to explore your interests in sports and participate in a U.S. high school athletic teams, international students should research carefully the list of teams available of their desired high schools, as well as visa and academic requirements for international students be a part of the teams. It’s also beneficial to look at the schools’ athletic achievements, such as championships at the regional or state levels, and alumni records, to see if students have signed with college athletic teams or went on to play at a professional level in the past.

Comment below or schedule an appointment with an Amerigo Global Manager to explore the athletic teams at our campuses and which one will fit your preferences best!