Karen Fong is a college admissions expert with specialized knowledge of the collegiate rugby landscape. She is a credentialed guidance counselor backed by a team at Dunbar Educational Consultants with over 130 years of combined experience in this field. She is also a former Division I Rugby player at UC Davis, National U-23 Team player and currently on the USA Rugby Referee circuit. With her deep knowledge and strong ties to the collegiate rugby world, Karen is the best resource for families searching for the best fit college for their young rugby player. Various packages are available to suit every family’s needs. To schedule a consultation and discuss client options, please call Karen at (310) 497-0619 cell or email
San Diego State University www.sdsu.edu
Who wouldn’t want to play rugby at a top ranked university smack dab in the middle of “America’s Finest City?” San Diego State University may be best-known for its amazing locale, picture-perfect weather, and miles of gorgeous beaches, but it is quickly becoming known in the rugby world as a fierce contender.
The SDSU Rugby Club was founded in 1958 and has flourished, earning numerous conference titles as well as the Collegiate National Championship in 1987. The SDSU Rugby Club has been ranked in the top 10 in the nation, and, within the last three years, the team has advanced to the elite eight and final four respectively. In 2011, SDSU also competed in USA Rugby’s inaugural Collegiate 7s National Championships. Conference lines are currently in flux, but if SDSU’s history is any indication, the Aztecs will continue to compete in the toughest collegiate league the U.S. has to offer.
Former USA Rugby 7s national team captain Matt Hawkins follows a strong pedigree of coaches at SDSU including Dan Payne (who now heads Life University’s rugby program) and Matt Sherman (now at Stanford University). Hawkins has deftly picked up where these former rugby coaching heavyweights left off. Hawkins makes no secret that his team’s goal is to win a national championship. SDSU players are able to tap into Hawkins’ extensive rugby network of former teammates, coaches and other rugby specialists who guest coach at trainings and bring new ideas and unique techniques.
“As long as we are progressing and evolving as a program, I want to be involved. I want to keep pushing boundaries. When people get comfortable, people become bored and [that’s when] things fall apart.”
Hawkins and his coaching staff focus on the same philosophy of learning, growing and becoming great rugby players. This mentality has meshed well with SDSU’s young group of athletes. Last year’s play-off-bound squad consisted of 6 freshman starters, many who came to SDSU with the specific goal of eventually making a National Team and banking on Hawkins to help get their skills up to par. Whatever a player’s goal is, Hawkins has stated he will do everything in his power to exhaust every resource and give him whatever opportunity he wants. Bottom line, he wants players who, “want to learn and are willing to play for their teammates.”
Current and former SDSU players have a shared love of their team and note they will be “Aztecs for life.”
Current player Jamie Kelm, who was selected to the 2012 Collegiate All-Americans team, said that the friendships and support on the team are his favorite part about playing for the Aztecs. Former SDSU and USA 7s player Alex Ross had a laundry list of things he loved about his experience at SDSU. Topping his list included faculty and administrative support, alumni connections and the wide range of academic program choices.
“The rugby program is great… and is as close to a varsity program as it gets. The best part would probably be home games on the grass field in the middle of campus, which usually draw a big crowd."
As Ross mentioned, even though SDSU is a club sport, it operates much like a varsity team. Hawkins notes, “If you come here, you will be treated like a professional. You will be pushed to be the best you can be. If you want to be a part of this system we would love to have you.”
SDSU is one of the lucky collegiate club programs with a full-time trainer dedicated to all team practices and games, as well as full access to the athletic department’s strength and conditioning coaches and varsity weight rooms. The downside to not having varsity status is that the team does not have any admissions slots. The only way to wear the red and black is to gain admission on your own merit.
In recent years, SDSU’s academics have begun to overtake its longstanding reputation as a party school. According to SDSU’s admissions website, in 2011, SDSU received over 61,000 applications and only a little over 15,000 were admitted. By sheer numbers, the competition to gain admission is stiff and on top of that, the quality of the students is ever-improving. In 2011, the average GPA for an incoming freshman was a 3.62, the average SAT Math score was 554, the average SAT Verbal score was 529, and ACT composite scores averaged 23.7.
Students apply to SDSU through the California State University application system which facilitates all applications to any of the 23 CSU campuses (*Note, the CSU system is separate from the University of California system).
The CSU application is straightforward and admission is based strictly on a student’s grades and test scores, with extra-curricular activities playing a minimal role.
The best way to help your application is to ensure your grades and test scores are top-notch.
It is also recommended to double-check that your high school courses all satisfy the CSU’s “A-G Requirements,” which may differ from a high school’s graduation requirements or other colleges’ eligibility requirements. There is no application essay and the CSU system only counts your grades taken AFTER 9th grade. The CSU system does offer extra “points” for approved honors courses, with a cap on how many “extra points” you are able to receive. For further details, go to www.csumentor.com and click on the “High School Students” tab.
Students flock to SDSU for its best-known majors such as Nursing, Business, and Hospitality. Students seem happy to overlook the downsides of overcrowded majors, with average graduation rates nearing the 6-year mark, and class sizes hovering in the hundreds, all for the college experience SDSU offers. Even with rising tuition costs, the total cost of attendance may still one of the best values around.* If you’re looking for an active, diverse university situated in a beautiful location and want to grow under the tutelage of an American rugby legend, SDSU may be just the right place for you.
Contact Coach Hawkins through the website to schedule a tour with current players and see if SDSU is the right school and program for you. Aztec Rugby Club Website: http://arc.sdsu.edu/rugby/index.php
*Compared to nearby University of San Diego whose total cost of attendance is upwards of $50,000/year.
25,000 undergraduate, 5,000 graduate students
200 academic degree programs
Costs - In State Residents- $18,000/year (Tuition, Housing, other fees)
Out of State Residents - $29,000/year (Includes Tuition, Housing, other fees)
Recent Finishes National Playoffs:
2012 D1-AA: 2nd
2011: D1-A 4-3, not in playoffs
2010: D1 Top 8
2009: D1 Top 4
2008: D1 Top 8
2007: D1 Top 8
Data and facts pulled from San Diego State rugby's Web site and Fiske Guide to Colleges 2012.