What are some good D3 and D2 baseball programs with decent academics?

What are some good D3 and/or D2 baseball programs with very good academics? Preferably with a student body that is athletic and well-rounded? My son's dream is to play at a bigger, more school spirited D1 but that isn't turning into a reality. He's had interest from a ton of D3's of which he's never heard much about but I'm urging him to consider. There has to be some D3's with good baseball and decent school spirit. His grades/SAT's are excellent, but he doesn't want a school full of "nerds", but a well-rounded experience.
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St. Thomas in St. Paul MN (defending D3 champ) has a nice varied curriculum for a D3 and outstanding athletics. Other great schools in St. Thomas' conference (MIAC) include Gustavus Adolphus, St. Olaf, St, John, and Macalester, to name a few.

In the northwest the Northwestern Conference has many great D3's including Pacific Lutheran, Puget Sound (both Tacoma, WA), Linfield, Willamette (both Oregon) and Whitfield (Spokane). All are great schools with competitive athletics. Whitman (Walla Walla) is a fantastic school whose woeful baseball program is under reconstruction by a new coach.
Take a look at the USNews college rankings and pay some attention to the separate list of Liberal Arts Colleges that is separate from the "National" univeristies category. A lot of these are NESCAC schools, in the northeast, and they are full of quite bright kids and some very good athletes. Almost always better athletes than they get credit for.

Or, look at the National rankings and extract the higher ranked schools that you know are not D1.


Above is a link to the D3 list of baseball programs. Among the best academic schools that I am aware of are Amherst,Williams, Weslyan, Rochester, Chigago, Tufts, Swarthmore, Oberlin, Middlebury, Kenyon, Johns Hopkins, Haverford, Emory, Brandeis, Bowdoin.
His academics aren't really excellent, but good for a 3 sport athlete at a demanding prep school. He has a 3.9 and 1380/1800 SAT but just took the ACT for the first time and will redo SAT. Taking 3 AP's right now. 3 sport athlete, Captain. OF runs the sixty in 6.61 seconds so he's fast and very athletic.

We don't know much about these schools. Are any of them school-spirited schools and not so "cut throat". If he didn't play sports he'd love to go to a school like Clemson, UNC, Va Tech, Wake. I know at a small school you don't get something like that, but there must be schools where the school spirit is decent for a small school. Also, at the NESCAC schools, are there just the super smart intellectual type, or are there more well-rounded kids too. He's smart, but likes to have fun too. A great all around college experience. (I'm not judging anyone, just trying to find a good fit for him. He fears his only friends at some of these schools would only be other players) He gets along with everyone, but he's an athletic guy whose idea of fun is not sitting around debating philosophy. But, he does want to go to the best academic school possible.

His first choice would be a big school, but he really wants to play baseball. There are benefits to a small school, but it's hard to know where he would fit in. Want a great academic school, but a balance.
As a parent of a player being recruited by virtually all of the schools listed by Pedropere as well as academic D1's, we have found the process between academic D1 and high D3 to be fairly similar. For Claudette this means things are getting late and the schools are doing there final looks and overnight visits right now!

There is a wide variety in D3. Emory has 5,000 undergrads and is a fun place but has no football team- Williams 1500 kids is also fun - great tradition but very small. Swarthmore is quirky - U of Chicago - "The place were fun goes to die." Amherst - preppy. The only way to appreciate these schools is to visit. One word or paragraph won't begin to describe the variety. Swarthmore, Tufts, Hopkins - These names are a big deal in the real world.

Here is the good news. A 6.61 sixty is highly valued in D3. 1800 won't get you in to any of these schools without baseball. But, if you play smart, that sixty time might do the trick. We look at it this way. There are three aspects to a ballplayers college life: Academics, Social, Athletics. In D1 you can only have two of those. In D3 you might get to have all three and you certainly can have a very fulfilling academic experience that would not have been available to you had you not been a really good baseball player.

The recruiting process is not that much different than D1 with the exception of money. At high end D3 the currency the coach has is admissions.
In D1 you can only have two of those. In D3 you might get to have all three and you certainly can have a very fulfilling academic experience that would not have been available to you had you not been a really good baseball player.

That is an interesting but strange statement ?

What is the difference between a non academic and an academic institution ? Do the profs dance a gig while lecturing to the students ?
DIII has a Sears Cup, similar to DI, for high level athletic performance in multiple sports.
You will find many of the schools at the top of the DIII Sears Cup are also schools with wonderful academics.
Some schools that your son might want to consider that have very good sports and academics at the DIII level include Emory(no football), Millsaps in Jackson, Miss., Rhodes in Memphis, DePauw, and Trinity U, in San Antonio.
I know the coaches at Millsaps and Trinity. You will not find better coaches and people anywhere in college athletics. These men can make a difference for your son, and his college/college baseball experience, in meaningful ways.
I have not met him but have heard wonderful things about the Coach at Rhodes, also.
Your son isn't going to get the Saturday football rush at a small liberal arts school that he will get on Saturday at the Big House in Ann Arbor.
On the other hand, at schools like those I have mentioned, he will be the one competing for a possible conference, regional and national championship as opposed to cheering others who have that dream.
Good Luck to your son. With those grades and scores, he has some great opportunities.
If I am correctly reading that he has a 1380 on the 1600 scale, I believe that the coaches at all of these schools would be quite interested in evaluating his athletic talent.

As noted, none of these schools will give you the feeling of the big house on Saturdays, or the rose bowl. But the coaches at these types of institutions are used to dealing with kids who have high academic ability and demanding courseloads. And you are surrounded by ambitious people who are interested in going on to professional and graduate school. The link below is a couple of years out of date, and has its limitations, but is interesting anyway as a rough touchstone for what schools send graduates to what type of professional schools.

"There are three aspects to a ballplayers college life: Academics, Social, Athletics. In D1 you can only have two of those."

I think I understand what you're saying...the difference is the incredible pressure to perform on the field at a D1 sort of precludes any kind of social life? One would presume that at a super-academic school (i.e. Tufts), that after academics, what little time is left would go to athletics, too. I think what you mean is that those players who want as close to a "normal" college experience, on and off the field, would do well to pick a program that is less demanding.
Pedropere - Exactly my point. From my direct, current experience with a son with numbers just slightly higher than your son's, he will draw interest from the top schools if his baseball is good. However, without baseball we have been told that those numbers 1380/1800 may not get it done. (as a side note - the 1800 piece means he a had a 420 writing number? or did you misprint and mean 1600?) Before everyone jumps on me, I understand the application process is complex and "every kid is different." That is true. Just repeating what we have been told by admissions officers.

This is a good thing. Baseball can help you change the odds from 5-1 against you to "you're likely to be accepted" However, I recommend you get going quickly because the coaches are trying to get lists finished by the early decision dates.
My son enjoyed all 3 and graduated with a 3.8 GPA at a D1.

He attended all kinds of sports events including games at Clemson, USC and others that he and his friend traveled to for the weekend. He spent countless hours enjoying the social life and hours at the beaches. He learned to play the guitar and is engaged to a beautiful Southern girl. They dated for 3 years and enjoyed a great social life with dates that included his teammates and their girl friends. He has been to 3 weddings in the last year. Obviously his teammates weren't suffering from the grinding work load.
A large percentage of kids are in schools they shouldn't be in because of misguided parents.
A large percentage of kids are in schools they shouldn't be in because of misguided parents.

I forgot to mention the 2 jobs he had. Can't be that tough.

From what I can tell in this thread, there are very nice people providing good information in response to a parent with a very legitimate, valuable question.

Why not quit bragging about what your son did off the field and stop "using" your "selected" versions of his college experience to demean other parents and to conclude, as you did, that other or different student/athletic experiences are the result of the "large percentage" of "misguided parents?"
Ha. My son is smarter than me! He has a 610 on writing.

I REALLY appreciate the info on some of the coaches because that is very important, especially if he is giving up the "big school" environment. Some of these schools mentioned sent him an email after seeing him at a showcase saying very positive things (he could pitch at a D3), and said to get in contact with them if he is interested. Some have said they really want him to come visit, but it sounds like they are weeding him out to see if he is interested.

I hope someone understands what I mean by a well-rounded experience, and a student body that is diverse but has enough people similar to him so that he is comfortable.

Like, would he be happy at an Amherst or a Oberlin or a Haverford? I know they are great academics, but would an athletic, laid-back, nice kid who is smart but not a genius and whose favorite hobbies are all sports be happy there?

I do know time is winding down so I hope to find a few to go visit and show some interest. Thank you so much.
Is sounds to me like we both have the same son with thier same colege interests.The schools people have posted are all great schools and I would include schools such as Lehigh and Lafayette for the football experence he may be looking for. Has your son looked at or contacted U of Richmond?
I forgot to add that we took a visit to Haverford a few months back and without knowing your son that well I think he would be very happy there.Some of the things your son wants to avoid such as a "nerd school"I do not think you will find there or at W&L or the like, believe me my kid can smell one a mile away as that is the type of high school he attends now and has flat out told a few coaches that he has zero interest in the schools (without me knowing).Now if he was looking at schools like M.I.T.that would be a different story
There are a lot of college that your son would probably love. Why restrict to D111 ?
If he wants a big school and he ends up at a small school that could be a big problem.
All universities strive for a well rounded student body. Even the prestige schools mandate this.
All NCAA schools have good academics at the undergrad level.
In another thread a poster who was a 39 year recruiter said he recruited from all colleges because under grad is basically equal at most colleges .

So why restrict your son's potential to play and get a great college experience. To me it was about location that provided a great experience overall.
I understand completely what your son is saying and when it comes down to it, the right fit and finding balance is very important, my opinion is that it just can't all be about baseball. My son felt the same way, a very big part of where he ended up also included other NCAA sports that were competitive on a national ranking, not just baseball. Where he attended was in the middle of no where, yet he had a great time, so geography and location are a personal preference. Yes he was lucky to have that opportunity to make choices, but what you are talking about was very important in the choice he made.
No matter where you attend, playing baseball and going to class is very demanding, but no matter what, they find time for social life, attending concerts, making friends outside of baseball, dating, attending other sports and other activities Roll Eyes as well, especially in the fall.
The whole idea is NOT to forget why you are there, to do well in the classroom because without that you can't attend whether you play a sport or not.
This is the time of year when you can go visit and actually get the "feel" for a school during football season. There are plenty of great schools out there that can offer your son great academics, good baseball, and other competitive sports, you just have to take the time to sort it all out and visit those that are serious about him coming.
Thank you. But can you give us some suggestions to start visiting. Surely there are some a better fit than others. There are just too many to visit. My son is captain of the football team and it requires a 6 day a week commitment.

I hear Haverford (but not having a football team may be a problem), Texas is a bit far away. What else? Lehigh and Lafayette we'll try and get to. Any info on Amherst?

Any other standouts? I'm not crazy about the midwest, but he has had interest from there. Is it worth it to look at Oberlin, McCalaster, Grinnell, Dickinson, etc??

I think he'd rather stay on East Coast or south, but I don't want to miss anything by being close minded.

I REALLY need some suggestions of schools to visit. I know no one can tell me my son's perfect school, but I'm just asking for a short list of schools to visit. Thank you so so much.
I am not as familiar with D2 or D3 schools as others here.

I might have missed it, but you didn't mention where your son was in the recruiting process.

Don't forget that exposure in this process is important, not sure what steps you have taken towards that. If your son is a good student and plays the game well, he may have many oportunities which might include all divisions.

Why not consider those schools you mentioned in the ACC? You would be surprised, you do not have to have super stats to be noticed by those type of programs, but you do have to prove you can compete in the classroom.

No, you can't visit every school, you and your son need to sit down and make a list of those of interest, include all types of programs.
My son loves Amherst because almost 60% of the student body plays some type of varsity sport. I cannot speak for all NESCACs but I assume that similar stats hold true for many of them. LDE is surrounded by people (men and women)who have and continue to study hard and who love sports.
Since it sounds like you are close to Ohio - here is where I would look. Marietta is D3 - great academically and a very competitive baseball program with kids even drafted. Rumors of over recruiting there but go see for yourself and talk to the coach. Oberlin - expensive $50,000 and liberal from what I have heard - baseball coach is great though and program is on the rise - fantastic education. Kenyon - not been but have known kids who have gone - great academics - baseball program is good. Hope this helps.

Just down the road from you in Newport News is Christopher Newport University, 6,000 students, excellent academics, excellent athletic programs. The campus is beautiful and somehow in this economy, they continue to put up new buildings every year. CNU has great athletic facilities, and you frequently hear "D-1 facilities at a D III school". CNU's baseball team perenially is at or near the top of the USA South, advancing to the NCAA regionals the past two years.

I have a son playing there and one that played there but has graduated. As a parent and a baseball fan, I couldn't be happier with our sons' experience. Feel free to PM with any questions.
Claudette--I would be very interested to hear an update on your family's college search and visits, etc. While I am at it, I would very much second the advice from many of the previous posters, especially what Baseball-Fever wrote about Oberlin.

I just returned from a visit to Oberlin College with my 12-year-old (baseball playing) son for my 25th class reunion. We had a chance to meet the new head baseball coach while we were there. The baseball program has been on the rise for a few years now and the new Head Coach was the assistant coach for the past five years or so (the former head coach is now in OC athletics adminstration, so the legacy continues). He met us on campus, gave my son a lesson and worked him out, and then gave us a tour of the new sports facilities, while answering all of our questions.

The OC baseball program has expanded the field of prospects that OC recruits to both coasts, last year scoring a kid from a well-regarded high school program in Scottsdale, AZ.

While the tuition, room and board costs are relatively high, the financial aid has always been generous at Oberlin, and the cost of living there is remarkably low. The student body is brainy to be sure (I'm still not sure how I got in there when I went) but not annoyingly so, and the availability of varsity, club, and intramural sports leads to very high participation.

The college has made a major athletics facilities investment over the past 20 years including the brand new Williams Field House in which the baseball team has dedicated cages and equipment enabling them to practice indoors regardless of the weather.

If it's not too late already, I would very much encourage you to contact OC using their online recruitment materials and email Coach Abrahamowicz. If you want more of a personal perspective, please PM me.


When I watch college games I talk to parents about their son's journey. I watched many D1 and D3 games based on there not being much in the way of academic D2's in my son's desired region (VA to MA). I found out a there are a lot of D3 players who could have played mid major D1. The deciding factor was they decided they were unlikely to be pro prospects and chose the best academic route. My son's showcase coach made an interesting point to him. He asked if the decision came down to it, would he would rather play at a top D3 with the potential to make the D3WS or a less than successful mid major. It's a valid point.
My son has similar academic stats to yours and he chose York college (PA). The college is a totally solvent private school and is therefore alot cheaper than similar private schools on the East coast, and your son would be eligible for their presidential scholarship. My son had D1 "recruited walk-on" offers, but chose York for the reason RJM pointed out. We have watched them play alot and there are definite D1 calibre hitters there. They have made the NCAA tourney 3 of the last 4 years; no football team, but lots of school spirit-almost everyone plays a sport, also.
My son just finished his second year at a NESCAC school. While in high school the thought of a Penn State type of Saturday afternoon fueled most of his dreams of what a college experience should be. His skill level coupled with an excellent academic profile changed the thought process. I was worried when dropping him off, thinking that the school might be too small (1800) and the athletics not what he was looking for. Here is where we are at today.
1) He plays in a very competitive baseball conference with and against coaches and players who are excellent.
2) The academic rigor, which took a semester to adjust to,has helped him truly appreciate the value of his education.
3) He, his teammates and friends have a healthy social life.
4) Almost 60% of the students are or were varsity athletes. He is surrounded with kids who are smart, like to learn and are passionate about playing and watching sports.

A final note. This past year the football team went 8-0 and won the conference. They beat their arch-rivals on the last Saturday of the season. My son reported this on the phone that afternoon. "I know there weren't 80,000 people in the stands, but when Kevin caught that pass, it was my friend Kevin I was rooting for. All these guys live with me, eat with me, go to class with me. It would be nice to be rooting with 80,000 people, but I don't know if it would be better than rooting for my friends."
One thing to look at regarding D3 schools is the facilities. My son was very disappointed when seeing the baseball field of one of the NESCAC schools. It would be among the worst facilities in his high school conference. It's not exactly a recruiting tool to have the picture of an abused outfield with s0ccer goals. He could be a 6th generation legacy. I chose not to attend. His sister chose not to attend. School size is also a consideration as DE pointed out. Some of the NESCAC schools are smaller than his high school.
RJM - I understand what your saying, but the worst field we saw during the whole recruiting process was at a D1 school (Patriot League). BC's field is a parking lot outside of baseball season. We loved the "old school" feel of the Amherst field (no dugouts), but other people hate it. Loved Wash and Lee's new field. Hated Crieghton's 1970's era astro cement. I think I know the field you are talking about though (it is crummy). "To each his own" when it comes to fields.

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