To earn a high school letterman jacket, most schools require a student to participate in a varsity level group or team, such as football, swimming, soccer and occasionally a senior level arts group like competitive choir or band. The student must also maintain satisfactory academic records in all subjects.
Earning a place on a varsity or senior level team requires skill and extracurricular time and work. The athlete has to manage practices, competitions and travel with class work and exams. Coaches and instructors decide what the criteria are for lettering, including the amount of time the student participates, the student's performance requirements and what grades are acceptable. Occasionally, a statement of discretion is in place that allows a coach or instructor to give a letter to a student who fell short of all requirements except academics. This is for students who show leadership skills, are injured or who have not had as much competition time but gave all the required effort for practices and preparation.
Discipline issues can affect a student's ability to earn a letterman's jacket. Often, schools have policies in place that set a certain number of detentions or suspensions per student or per team. The best way to find these requirements is to contact the student's school or refer to the student handbook.