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College Athletic Scholarships – The 5 Misconceptions
Families seem to be in the middle of a perfect storm when it comes to sending their sons and daughters off to college. The stock market has wiped out a lot of people’s savings; College tuition has gone up; The economy has destroyed millions of jobs; House prices collapsed and equity was destroyed; And more children than ever want higher education.
Perhaps the most hopeful scenario for you is that your child plays a sport – very well. Sounds like you, right? You wouldn’t be reading this otherwise. So help in the form of athletic scholarships could be on the cards. You have to navigate the recruiting process and make some tough decisions about contacting college coaches, bringing in college counselors, negotiating terms (if you’re lucky) and all the rest of the potentially complicated process. But for those who have the potential and the need, there is no other way.
And there’s no question that sports scholarships can help pay for that college education. It may not be a full ride – but any contribution would be welcomed by most of us. However, the challenge for parents, especially those new to the college recruiting process, is navigating unfamiliar territory in a race where the stakes may not be as high. Hey, it’s just your child’s education!
Jennifer Noonan of College Sports Quest has counseled high school athletes in Southern California for nearly 10 years and has counseled more than 500 families in that time. She cautioned against leaving everything up to the student. It is very important for an athlete not to have full family support.
And as Jennifer Noonan sees it, there are five common misconceptions when it comes to college recruiting and sports scholarships.
Myth #1: If you’re good enough, coaches will always ask about you
And all good things come to those who wait. In a perfect world, this is what would happen. Alas, our world is less than perfect. And college scholarships are too important to leave a chance. You must be proactive. i
Myth #2: You have plenty of time
Not nearly as much as you think. About 25% of high school athletes are considered college scholarship prospects when they are freshmen. Another 35% are identified as sophomores. And another 45% or more are identified while in junior high. Not that many are known 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 you start your own recruiting efforts – in most sports – is by September 1st of your junior year (or earlier).
Myth #3: Your coach has connections and will recruit you
The coaches first job is to train you – so you can be recruited. And they are busy – many have teaching duties on top of their athletic duties. Not to mention families and personal lives and all the rest. Of course, use the help coaches offer you, 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 get noticed
When most college coaches approach a tournament, they have a short list of prospects they are looking for. At a 500 student athlete camp, college coaches will only take 2 or 3 seriously. The lesson is that you need to work on getting on their radar screen before the competition. And be realistic (but optimistic) about your abilities and the college competitions you’re targeting.
Myth #5: Grades don’t matter
Colleges and the NCAA have high school course requirements and GPA/SAT/ACT minimum standards that you have to clear. But meeting the NCAA and your college set minimum standards doesn’t mean you can continue to meet the required academic levels. And, all things being equal between you and another prospect, higher grades will count.
It always helps to visit colleges that interest you. Schedule your appointment so you can see your game being played. Avoid applying for sports scholarships to colleges you wouldn’t otherwise consider attending. In other words, whatever happens with the team – you still have the title!
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