The athletic college scholarship world is an exceedingly large and complex world, and it is constantly evolving. In the first article in his four-part series, A. Andrew “Andy” Marwede covers why timing is key in the athletic scholarship process.
If your child is one of the 10 or 20 best players in the country in their respective sport in their age group, the advice in this article doesn't necessarily apply to you. These practical suggestions are for the other 99% of high school student athletes who dream of obtaining an athletic scholarship.
My intention here is not to provide an exhaustive resource but rather to provide parents with helpful strategies based on my recent experience transitioning two of my children into Power 5 athletic programs. Parents who have a firm understanding of how the world of college athletic scholarships operates are better able to assist during the process and can even positively affect the financial value a child may receive if he or she is offered a college scholarship.
Timing Just Might Be Everything
It would be difficult to overstate the importance of timing in the athletic scholarship world. The financial value of a “full ride” athletic scholarship can be more than $300,000. Full scholarships are scarce with a limited number allotted for each sport by the NCAA.
You can't start exploring the recruiting process too early. In our many conversations with other parents who successfully navigated the process, we never spoke with a parent who felt he or she had started too early. However, we bumped into a great number of people who felt like they started too late.
Starting early helps you see all your options. There's no significant downside to starting early. At worst, an early start might help students and their families determine that the athletic scholarship option is not a viable option, and it can be taken out of the college-planning process. This would allow for more time to focus on college options that are viable.
Good fortune in the form of good timing also plays a large role in obtaining an athletic scholarship. For example, if an athlete gets injured during the time window in which the college of his or her choice is recruiting for that position, the athlete will likely not be offered a scholarship from that school.
Expand the dream list. It has also been the case that the dream school at the top of a student’s list might not be recruiting players for that position in the same year that he or she will graduate from high school. Parents should encourage their athlete to have more than three schools on the dream list.
Online Resources You Can Use Throughout the Process
College Confidential http://www.collegeconfidential.com/
The NCAA's website http://www.ncaa.com/
Top Drawer Soccer http://www.topdrawersoccer.com/ is the main news outlet/rating agency for high school soccer athletes
Hudl http://www.hudl.com/ Primary website where athletes of many sports post film
Twitter http://twitter.com for following and potentially communicating with college coaches and programs you are interested in (virtually mandatory)
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