Families seem to be in the middle of a perfect storm as they attempt to send their sons and daughters to college. The stock market wiped out a lot of the savings people thought they had; tuition fees have increased; the economy has wiped out millions of jobs; Real estate prices have plummeted, destroying equity; and more children than ever before want higher education.
Perhaps the most promising factor for you is that your child plays sports – actually quite a good thing. sounds like you right? Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this. Help in the form of a sports scholarship can therefore definitely be an option. You’ll have to navigate the recruitment process and make some tough decisions when it comes to contacting college coaches, hiring college counselors, negotiating terms (if you’re lucky enough to get that far), and the rest of a potentially complicated process. But for those with prospects and needs, there is simply no other way.
And there’s no question that an athletic scholarship can help fund that college education. It may not be a complete ride – but any contribution would be welcomed by most of us. However, the challenge for parents, especially those new to the college recruitment process, is navigating the unfamiliar terrain in a race where the stakes couldn’t be higher. Hey, it’s just your kid’s education!
College Sports Quest’s Jennifer Noonan has been counseling high school athletes in Southern California for about 10 years and has counseled over 500 families in that time. She warns against leaving everything to the student. It’s just too important for the athlete not to have the full support of family.
And as Jennifer Noonan sees it, there are five common misconceptions when it comes to college recruitment and athletic scholarships.
Myth #1: If you’re good enough, trainers will always learn about you
And all good things come to those who wait. In a perfect world, that’s exactly what would happen. Unfortunately, our world is far from perfect. And a college scholarship is too important to leave to chance. You have to be proactive. I
Myth #2: You have a lot of time
Not nearly as much as you think. Around 25% of high school athletes are identified as potential college scholarship recipients as freshmen. Another 35% are identified as sophomores. And another 45% or so are identified when they are juniors. Not many are identified as seniors. So you don’t have as much time as you think. According to Noonan and College Sports Quest,[thetimeforyoutostartyourownrecruitingefforts-inmostsports-isbySeptember1ofyourjunioryear(orearlier)isbySeptember1ofyourjunioryear(orearlier)[istderZeitpunktfürSieIhreeigenenRekrutierungsbemühungen-indenmeistenSportarten-biszum1SeptemberIhresJuniorjahres(oderfrüher)zubeginnen[thetimeforyoutostartyourownrecruitingefforts-inmostsports-isbySeptember1ofyourjunioryear(orearlier)
Myth #3: Your coach is connected and will recruit you
The first task of coaches is to educate you – so that you can be recruited. And they are busy – many have teaching duties in addition to their sporting duties. Not to mention families and personal lives and all the rest. Sure, take advantage of the help coaches offer you, even ask for it, and use any connections they have. But don’t make this your only recruiting strategy.
Myth #4: College camps and prominence tournaments mean you’ll get noticed
When most college coaches come to tournaments, they have a very short list of prospects in mind to watch. In a camp of 500 student athletes, a college coach might only look seriously at 2 or 3. The lesson is that you have to do the work to get on their radar screens before the tournament. And be realistic (but optimistic) about your skills and the college tournaments you’re aiming for.
Myth #5: Grades don’t matter
Colleges and the NCAA have high school course requirements and minimum GPA/SAT/ACT standards that you must meet. However, meeting the minimum standards set by the NCAA and your college does not mean you can continue to attain the required academic level. And when all things are equal between you and another prospect, higher grades count.
It always helps to go to colleges that interest you. Try to time your visit to see your sport being played. Avoid applying to colleges for athletic scholarships that you would not otherwise attend. In other words, whatever happens to the team – you still have to graduate!