Added Time: Our Monthly College Search Newsletter
November Update: Getting Started!
There is an old song about “waiting is the hardest part” (yes, it’s Tom Petty, you’re so smart) … but in organizing your college search a lot of times it is the STARTING that is the hardest. So, this month, we look at the best time to get started and some first steps to get you on your way!
In terms of timing, you can get a general overview on our Dual Track College Search Timeline page. On an individual level there are a couple of simple guidelines I like to go by. The most important being, you are ready when you are ready. Whenever an aspiring student-athlete realizes that they want to play in college, there are great options in that moment right up to move-in day of their freshman year! It is NEVER “too late.” BUT generally, you have the most options (and certainly the high-end academic ones) if you get your search going sometime between the middle of sophomore year and the fall of your junior year in high school. Also, public service announcement: if your kid is not in high school, it is too soon. Live in the moment a little, there is plenty of FOMO to go around anyway.
Once you decide the time is right to really engage in your college search, you want to begin to figure out what your best “fit” is. One great way to start the process (or generate interest in a young person having difficulty visualizing their future) is to try and visit 3 nearby colleges… one large, one medium sized, and one small. It doesn’t really matter which ones, you want to be on campus while it is in session, maybe eat in the dining hall or just people watch (formal tour? Maybe, but it’s not necessary unless you think this is someplace you REALLY want to go). You will get a pretty good feel for what the students look like and the overall “vibe” of the place within an hour or two. Listen to how people talk and what they are excited about! If you are in the Washington, DC area suburbs you could easily visit the University of Maryland, Goucher College, and either American University, Salisbury University or Towson State and have the 3 basic sizes covered (for example).
If you find you have a strong preference on size/location, that is a great way to narrow your target list of schools. You can then look for schools that have majors that fit your interests in the geographic area you want to be, that have that size profile… Right away you have narrowed the list considerably. At that point, you can use your academic and athletic profile to create a balanced list (with some Division 1, 2, 3 & NAIA schools in your list of 12 or so targets) and reach out to those coaches for feedback.
As you reach out, the responses will give you a better understanding of where your fit is mutual and the types of schools that want to recruit students like YOU. From there, you can expand your list with schools that are like the ones that reached back out to you and reset your list, OR you can invest in adjusting your profile either as an athlete or student (or hopefully both) if you want to broaden your options. Either way, it is time to get a deeper understanding of your best choices and begin the process of narrowing down. Remember, the object of the game is to find the right fit, not get responses from as many people as possible – you only can attend one school at a time!
As always, if you are interested in learning more about individualized or institutional consulting to elevate your college search, check out our services here! You can make an initial appointment through the link on our homepage! School administrators and counselors access our free resources, appointments and programs for school collaboration here.
For more information, contact Dave Morris, College Counselor & CEO, College Athletic Advisor, email@example.com or phone: (719) 248-7994
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This month, as we close in on early signing day and likely letters are going out to student-athletes promising admission to highly selective colleges in both NCAA Division 1 and Division 3, we are looking at NCAA eligibility and the impact of your academic profile on your recruiting process. The fact remains, even in “Power 5” Conference schools, the ones realigning in a frantic dash for cash that runs over $100 million per year for Big Ten schools in their next TV deal, that these are COLLEGES. Their primary business is NOT sports. It is education. As such, at every level and in every situation, the better your academic profile, the better (and cheaper) your options are. However, sometimes, in our rush to educate students and families about NCAA eligibility, we get too focused on communicating minimum requirements rather than optimal advice for college bound student-athletes.
So… here are some very important reminders as you think about your academic profile.
- Every 0.1 GPA point you can add to your CUMULATIVE GPA gives you more options and lower costs for college. Does not matter if you are going from 2.5 to 2.6 or 3.8 to 3.9, it still matters, sometimes a surprising amount!
- The higher your GPA the more attractive you are as an athletic recruit. Whether we are talking about your impact on the athletic index in the Ivy League, a team’s APR as a strong student, or simply because as a coach, you know better students are generally going to be more disciplined in ways that help them achieve more in all facets of their lives.
- NCAA initial eligibility standards apply ONLY to Division 1 and Division 2 recruits. In NCAA Division 3, if you are admitted as a freshman, you are eligible to play immediately. The NAIA has its own standards. Junior colleges require only high school graduation (or a GED), and the USCAA uses the Division 3 standard.
- NCAA eligibility is a MINIMUM. It does not guarantee admissibility to a particular college, and since it is focused on “core coursework” you need to successfully navigate more than just those classes in order to graduate from high school and be admissible to most colleges!
- I was asked recently, “is it better to get an ‘A’ in a ‘regular’ class or a ‘B’ in an honors class?” The answer is simple. If you are looking at highly selective colleges and you need as many A’s in honors/AP/IB/Dual Enrollment classes as you can get. You are competing for admission in a pool of students who don’t get many B’s and C’s.
- In many sports, there is a bit of a sliding scale. A student with a lower academic profile is competing for maybe ONE slot in a given year’s roster, while a student with a stronger academic profile might be a better recruit than a marginally better peer because he or she enables the coach to get a weaker student but game changing athlete into the school.
- From a financial aid perspective, colleges will give out around $500 million in athletic aid this year. That is a lot of money. They give away well over $3 BILLION in academic “merit” discounts… which pool of money would YOU like to draw from? (the correct answer, usually, is “both”)
- At highly selective schools, having a high GPA is only half the battle. The other is “rigor.” This means taking the most challenging courses offered in your school. The more “rigor” the stronger you are as a recruit (or applicant)! There is a balance you are looking for here. It does NOT pay to maximize the level of every course and make yourself miserable or make it hard to succeed academically. BUT, you do want to challenge yourself academically and doing it in a healthy way will give you the best college choices for YOU!
So… hit those books. That grade you raise might just make that dream school that much more of a mutual fit, and more affordable!
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