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College Athletic Scholarships – The 5 Misconceptions
Families seem to be in the middle of a perfect storm as they look to send their sons and daughters to college. The stock market wiped out a lot of savings that people thought they had; college tuition climbed; the economy has eliminated millions of jobs; house prices collapsed and destroyed equity; and more children than ever want higher education.
Perhaps the most promising circumstances for you is that your child plays a sport – even plays it quite well. Sounds like you, right? You wouldn’t be reading this otherwise. So help in the form of a sports scholarship may well be on the cards. You’ll have to navigate the recruiting process, and make some tough judgments about contacting college coaches, meeting with 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 no other way.
And there’s no question that an athletic scholarship can help pay for that college education. It may not be a full ride – but any input would be welcomed by most of us. The challenge for parents though, especially those new to college recruiting, is navigating the unfamiliar terrain in a race where the stakes couldn’t be higher. Hey, it’s just your child’s education!
Jennifer Noonan of College Sports Quest has counseled high school athletes in Southern California for approximately 10 years and counseled over 500 families in that time. She warns against leaving everything up to the student. It is just too important for the athlete not to have the full support of the family.
And as Jennifer Noonan sees it, there are five common misconceptions when it comes to college recruiting and athletic scholarships.
Myth #1: If you’re good enough, coaches will always find out about you
And all good things come to those who wait. In a perfect world, that’s exactly what would happen. Alas, our world is less than perfect. And a college scholarship is too important to leave to chance. You have to be proactive. me
Myth #2: You have plenty of time
Not nearly as much as you think. About 25% of high school athletes are identified as college scholarship prospects when they are freshmen. Another 35% are identified as sophomores. And another 45% or more are identified when they are young. Not so many are identified as elderly. So you don’t have as much time as you think. According to Noonan and College Sports Quest [http://www.collegesportsquest.com]the time for you to begin your own recruiting efforts – in most sports – is before September 1st of your junior year (or earlier).
Myth #3: Your coach has connections and will recruit you
The first job of coaches is to train you – so 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, use the help you are offered by coaches, even ask for it and take advantage of all the connections they have. But don’t make this your only recruiting strategy.
Myth #4: College camps and scouting tournaments mean you’ll get noticed
When most college coaches get to tournaments, they have a very short list of prospects in mind that they are looking at. In a camp of 500 student athletes, a college coach might only take a serious look at 2 or 3. The lesson is that you have to do the work on their radar screens before the tournament. And be realistic (but optimistic) about your abilities and the college tournaments you’re aiming for.
Myth #5: Grades don’t matter
Colleges and the NCAA have high school requirements and GPA/SAT/ACT minimum standards that you will need to clear. But meeting the minimum standard the NCAA and your college set does not mean that you will be able to continue to meet the required levels of academics. And, all things being equal between you and another prospect, higher grades will count.
It always helps to visit the colleges you are interested in. Try to time your visit so you can see your sport being played. Avoid applying to colleges for athletic scholarships that you wouldn’t otherwise consider attending. In other words, whatever happens with the team – you still have a degree to get!
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