Whether you’ve reached your junior or senior year of high school, you’ve probably started thinking about college (or maybe you’re just a really ambitious underclassman). Whichever group you fall into, you’ve given some thought to which university you want to attend. You’ve probably thought about your major, too. And even though you haven’t made any definite decisions, one thing is certain: You’ve been fencing for some time and you want to take advantage of that in your college application.
While we definitely recommend boasting about your fencing experience, you need to be strategic. Like any other part of your college application, leveraging fencing to get into a good university isn’t as simple as waving a magic wand. You need to evaluate your fencing goals before including it on your college application.
Planning Your Approach
Assuming you’re going to continue fencing — don’t worry, we’ll get to those who don’t plan on it — are you looking to compete at a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) division one, two, or three level? Or are you interested in joining a fencing club?
Either route allows you to represent your school, lets you befriend other fencers, and helps you stay in shape. But when it comes to practicing and competing, club fencing and NCAA team fencing are vastly different beasts.
NCAA fencing at a division one, two, or even three level has a longer season, mandatory/daily practices, and is very competitive. NCAA fencing can also have amazing scholarship opportunities.
Club fencing is low-pressure, has a shorter competitive season, and the practice sessions are optional. You can’t get scholarships from a collegiate club since they aren’t sanctioned by the NCAA.
Leveraging Your Fencing Experience
People who want to join a collegiate fencing club or don’t plan on fencing in college only have to worry about selling their fencing experience to the admissions board. Fencers who want to fence in an NCAA program have more work to do because they also have to do some networking. But since your college application needs to address your commitment to fencing over the years regardless of which road you’re traveling, we’ll address that first.
Perfecting Your Application
Whether you plan to fence in a club or merely want to leverage your high school fencing experience in the application process, you’ll impress the admissions office by panting a clear picture your commitment to the sport. In short, you can use your fencing experience to demonstrate maturity, time management skills, self-discipline, and personal character.
Attending weekly classes, private lessons, and participating in open fencing nights are all relevant to admission boards. It not only reflects responsibility but proves that you can balance schoolwork with other activities over an extended period. Detailing your level of commitment to the sport also demonstrates a remarkable level of discipline and illustrates your willingness to challenge yourself.
Fencing is unlike any other sport when it comes to mental and personal benefits. It helps build character and schools — especially those with fencing clubs or an NCAA fencing program — will consider that during the admissions process. Its strategic components also build mental toughness and requires fencers to take individual responsibility for the results of their choices.
Those are just some of the things you can highlight in your college application when discussing your experience with fencing, but you don’t have to limit yourself. Take an hour to think about how fencing has turned you into the kind of person that your college of choice wants on their campus and throw those in there, too. It never hurts to be authentic!
Networking With Coaches
If you choose the NCAA route, it’s critical that you do your research to find out which universities offer fencing programs and approach those schools’ coaches with all of your competitive results. And if you want colleges to approach you with scholarship opportunities, you need to compete in national tournaments and make connections with coaches at those tournaments.
If you haven’t participated in national tournaments and still want to fence in the NCAA, don’t get discouraged! There are plenty of smaller collegiate fencing programs that want to fill their rosters with fencers. Sending out emails and making phone calls to coaches at such schools is tremendously worthwhile if you’re burning to continue your fencing career. The coaches at these programs are happy to work with less experienced students who are driven and passionate, especially if the alternative is an experienced fencer with poor sportsmanship or a track record of irresponsibility.
Now you know how to take advantage of your fencing career to get into college! But maybe you have more questions about NCAA fencing or club fencing. If that’s the case, you’re more than welcome to ask Mary Spohn, a competition instructor at Swordplay LA. She teaches classes throughout the week, so feel free to drop by to ask her your questions!