Over the next few weeks, 400,000 US college athletes will head back to their campuses to begin another year of college sports. But what most parents and high school athletes don’t realize, according to Karen Weaver, EdD, director of Athletics for Penn State University-Abington and a TV color analyst for CBS College Sports and Big Ten Network, is that there is 22 times more academic aid available than athletic scholarships and Olympic sports scholarships usually are in the $3,000-$5,000 per year range. Only two percent of high school athletes receive an athletic scholarship and only one third of college athletes have an athletic scholarship.
During the latest edition of #CollegeChat via Twitter, Weaver (http://twitter.com//collegeathlete ) and other college professionals and students discussed facts about college athletics. “I’m afraid that most club coaches are selling parents a bill of goods in chasing after an athletic scholarship,” Weaver said. “There can be a lot more availability of academic aid for college athletes at Division III schools which tend to be small private colleges. Aspiring college athletes need to ask themselves what are their priorities?”
Weaver outlined the following facts about college athletics and recruiting during #CollegeChat (http://twitter.com/collegechat):
Fact 1: Four Year Full Ride Athletic Scholarships are a Myth
Contrary to what parents and high school athletes believe, guaranteed four year full ride scholarships are a myth. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) stipulates that athletic scholarships are good for one year at a time and are potentially renewable at the coach’s discretion. Coaches that promise full ride 4 year scholarships are not telling the truth. In addition, if an athlete is injured the athlete may lose their scholarship.
Fact 2: Forget Studying Abroad or Participating in Internships in Most DI Programs
According to Weaver, in most DI programs it is very unlikely that athletes will be able to participate in studying abroad or working in internships. However, in DII and DIII it is more likely that athletes can participate in studying abroad and internships as well as other campus extracurricular activities.
Fact 3: College Sports May Leave Little Time to Study
Generally, when college athletes are “in season” they may spend 15 to 30 hours per week training and playing in games. In addition, they will also be spending a significant amount of time traveling to games. Therefore, when high school athletes are comparing different colleges, it is extremely important that they find out from other players how much time is required to devote to their sport. Make sure to ask about practice time, weight training time, and travel schedule as well as off season training.
Fact 4: Hiring an Athletic Recruiter Can Be a Waste of Money
According to Weaver, “I am not a fan of most recruiting services. Most coaches do not like the interference.” Instead, Weaver recommends that parents and aspiring college athletes do the work themselves. One place to start is Weaver’s website at http: http://www.intelligentrecruiting.org/ . On the “Resource” link page http://www.intelligentrecruiting.org/resources.html parent and athletes will find an exhaustive list of resources they can utilize to learn more about the recruiting process. High School athletes and parents should also download and read through the NCAA’s “2010-2011 Guide for the College Bound Student Athlete” available at http://www.ncaapublications.com/p-3950-2010-2011-guide-for-the-college-bound-student-athlete.aspx
Weaver recommends that parents or high school students make the first contact with a coach via email explaining why the student athlete is interested in that college. The email could also include a link to the student athlete’s highlight footage on YouTube. Coaches are also interested in a student athlete’s scholastic record including GPA, SAT or ACT scores, AP classes and any academic and athletic awards.
Fact 5: College Coaches start building files on 9th graders and on 7th graders for basketball
If a budding athlete is interested in playing Division I especially, they or their parents need to make contact with college programs they are interested in as early as 7th grade for basketball or by the end of 9th grade. Weaver recommends that parents take the helm of the initial phone contact between coach and athlete but need to turn this over to the high school athlete by the time they become a junior. After all, it is very important for the coach to get to know an athlete and the one thing all coaches don’t want is a helicopter parent.
Truth 6: You Don’t Need to Hire a Professional Videographer to Capture Your Highlights
Save your money and upload your athletic highlights to YouTube recommends Weaver. Coaches don’t want to search through DVDs of recruits when they can simply go online and see the latest clips of an athlete on YouTube.
Fact 7: High School Athletes Must take the SAT or ACT and Meet All Academic Eligibility Requirements
The NCAA spells out in detail the academic requirements for DI and DII athletes at http://www.ncaa.org/wps/wcm/connect/public/ncaa/student-athlete+experience/becoming+a+student-athlete/division+i+toolkit
But these guidelines should be used only as a starting point for athletes. Athletes that are interested in competing at more academically rigorous colleges, or at colleges that demand higher academic achievement by athletes for admission, need to make sure they are satisfying the academic requirements of those colleges and not just the NCAA. After all, the NCAA and the coach don’t admit an athlete to a college, the Admissions Department does.
Fact 8: College Coaches Send Out Hundreds of Recruiting Letters
Although getting a letter from a college coach can be very exciting and encouraging, aspiring athletes need to keep in mind that coaches send out hundreds of letters like this every year. If a student doesn’t have the necessary grades, they will be dropped from the coach’s list. In addition, if your athlete is interested in a particular college that has seen them play either in person or via YouTube, they should ask the coach for an honest assessment of the athlete’s chances of making their team. “If you don’t get a straight answer, that should tell you something,” Weaver said.
#CollegeChat is a live bi-monthly conversation intended for teens, college students, parents, and higher education experts on Twitter. Questions for each #CollegeChat edition can be sent to Theresa Smith, the moderator of #CollegeChat via http://Twitter.com/collegechat , by entering questions online on the CollegeChat Facebook page at http://ht.ly/1XIqV , or by email. CollegeChat can also be found on Twitter at http://Twitter.com/collegechat .