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 has wiped out a lot of the savings people thought they had; college tuition is up; the economy has wiped out millions of jobs; house prices have collapsed and equity destroyed; and more kids than ever want a higher education.
Perhaps the promising circumstances for you are that your child takes up a sport, even does it quite well. He sounds like you, right? Otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this. So help in the form of an athletic scholarship may well be on the cards. You’ll have to navigate the recruiting process and make some tough judgments about contacting college coaches, hiring college consultants, negotiating terms (if you’re lucky enough to get that far), and all the rest of a potentially complicated process. But for those with perspectives and needs, there is simply no other way.
And there’s no question that an athletic scholarship can help pay for that college education. It may not be a complete journey, but most of us would appreciate any contribution. However, the challenge for parents, especially those new to the college recruiting process, is navigating unfamiliar terrain in a career where the stakes couldn’t be higher. Hey, it’s just your child’s education!
Jennifer Noonan of College Sports Quest has been mentoring high school athletes in Southern California for approximately 10 years and has mentored over 500 families in that time. She warns against leaving everything to the student. It is 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 know about you.
And all good things come to those who wait. In a perfect world, this is exactly what would happen. Unfortunately, our world is less than perfect. And a college scholarship is too important to be left to chance. You must be proactive. I
Myth #2: You have a lot of time
Not as much as you think. About 25% of high school athletes are identified as college scholarship candidates when they are a freshman. Another 35% identify as sophomores. And another 45% or so identify when they’re juniors. Not many identify as seniors. 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 start your own recruiting efforts, in most sports, is September 1 of your junior year (or earlier).
Myth #3: Your trainer has connections and will get you hired
The trainers first job is to train you, so you can be recruited. And they are busy, many have teaching duties in addition to their athletic duties. Not to mention families and personal lives and everything else. Sure, use the help that the trainers offer you, 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 exposure tournaments mean you’ll turn heads
When most college coaches arrive at tournaments, they have in mind a very short list of prospects they’re looking at. In a camp of 500 student-athletes, a college coach may only be seriously looking at 2 or 3. The lesson is that you have to do the work of being on their radar screens before the tournament. And be realistic (but optimistic) about your abilities and the college tournaments you’re heading to.
Myth #5: Grades don’t matter
Universities and the NCAA have high school course requirements and minimum GPA/SAT/ACT standards that you will need to pass. But meeting the minimum standard set by the NCAA and your university does not mean that you will be able to continue to meet the required academic standards. And, all things being equal between you and another prospect, higher scores will count.
It always helps to visit colleges that interest you. Try to time your visit so you can see your sport being played. Avoid applying for athletic scholarships at colleges you might not otherwise consider attending. In other words, whatever happens with the team, you still have to get a title!