Finding Your College Fit!
Advice for Students and Families
Navigating Your Future In Pandemic
As we head to the June 1st ending of the NCAA Division 1 “Dead Period” and a shotgun start at returning to in person recruiting at the national level, this month is about keeping YOU at the center of your college search!
The first college to call or offer you deserves your appreciation, but NOT your commitment. Honestly, it is difficult to develop empathy on this one. You would never buy a car or a computer just because that company called you… and that is not a 4-year residential commitment! Keep in mind the recruiting process is about YOU being recruited by colleges. It is NOT just chasing the biggest name you knew of when you began your search or falling in love with the first person who calls you. Take the time, explore your options, and respect that there are 2,000 colleges in the United States sponsoring athletic programs – there are world class options you have not yet learned about!
- SHOT: Every year, NCAA schools “give” over $200 million in athletic scholarship grants-in-aid (scholarships). That is a lot of money.
- GOAL! the same schools give out over $2.5 BILLION in scholarships based on academics. These are SCHOOLS! They are focused on education as their core business.
- Implication: Wherever you are in terms of your grades right now, the simple truth is every .1 you add to your GPA makes college less expensive and expands your options!
It is the perfect time to raise your academic game! Right now. Going from 2.1 to 2.2 has the same benefit as going from 3.8 to 3.9… it is not about where you start, it is where you finish.
Know your level?
If you are restricting yourself to “I want to go D1” or “I think D1 will be too much of a commitment,” listen to coaches and look at programs individually. So many students miss out on opportunities because they restrict themselves based on labels that are not as descriptive as they might seem. Did you know that ALL NCAA divisions have the same 20-hour limitation on athletically related activities each week during the academic year? Did you know that many D3 athletes have “voluntary” training and competition run by the students themselves in their “off-season?”
Look at how the different “levels” overlap in our attached graphic; most sports would look roughly similar to this women’s soccer data. The bigger picture is that your academic and environmental preferences should be driving your search just as much as interactions with college coaches. Make sure you understand your options and have a plan to identify colleges beyond the small number of elite and regional options that first come to mind (both for you, and often school counselors and club coaches).
As always, if you are looking for the individualized or institutional consulting help that puts you ahead in our new post-pandemic world, 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, firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: (719) 248-7994
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We begin our update with a reminder of what has NOT changed. NCAA Division 1 is still in a Covid-19 “Dead Period.” Coaches are not allowed to recruit off campus and cannot interact with prospective students on their own campuses through May 31st. The President’s Council has committed to updating everyone by mid-April with plans for “re-opening” and with the increasing pace of vaccinations nationwide this looks increasingly like a reasonable target.
The general shape of admissions and recruiting right now. The pace of recruiting for 2021/2022 grads has a bit of a “hurry up and wait” quality to it. The most popular admissions decision at highly selective schools is “waitlist.” In athletics, you have the pandemic pile up of massive transfer requests, academic progress issues, eligibility and scholarship waivers tacked onto the lack of opportunities for evaluating prospects. It is going to be a hectic spring and summer, all in a new, post NACAC settlement world where colleges can actively recruit students who have committed and paid deposits. Student-athletes who are proactive and responsive to coaches are going to be able to navigate this environment, but it is going to be quite a ride.
NIL REFORM COULD REVOLUTIONIZE YOUR COLLEGE SEARCH! The NCAA is “on the clock” set by California to formulate a lawful way to regulate student-athlete’s Name/Image/Likeness rights. Currently, the NCAA bans student-athletes from accepting ANY “extra benefits” from ANY entities while they play in college sports, making NCAA student-athletes the only people in America who are banned from monetizing their personal social media feeds or celebrity. The NAIA responded to this movement by creating a framework as the law intended, and NAIA student-athletes are now able to monetize their social media profiles personal celebrity, here is one of the first examples of the new rules in action. The NCAA has tried to reframe this issue and lobby for federal intervention to preserve the status quo, but the effort is based on arguments that can charitably be described as dishonest. In the next 12 – 24 months, each NCAA division will formulate and implement regulations allowing student-athletes to monetize their NIL rights.
Let us explore where we are headed in terms of NIL rights. First, in terms of what NIL rules might look like and then how monetizing NIL rights could empower you in your college search!
College Athletic Advisor expects the NCAA to set up a regulatory framework to prevent corrupt boosters/coaches/fans from using NIL rights as cover for payoffs. The simplest solution is requiring schools to track and report each student NIL transactions into the NCAA’s RSRO app. This would allow transparency for NCAA compliance folks to track patterns that suggest abuse in real time, and any unreported payment/compensation discovered would be a clear violation. A percentage based “fee” could also be applied so that students who are earning NIL money would be paying back to the colleges some amount roughly equivalent to the increase in their NIL value that comes from representing NCAA member schools. That pot of money could be used as “revenue sharing” going back into programs or to students to support equity in some way. It is worth noting that some analysts feel female athletes are better positioned than their male peers to benefit from these opportunities.
Now how does this impact the recruiting process. The most obvious impact is “follow the money.” If student-athletes can monetize their NIL rights, recruiting students with high value NIL rights in the first place (i.e. large social media accounts) becomes more important… so maybe you will need to unlock your Instagram account and start adding followers (and follow @College_Athletic_Advisor of course). NIL reform will also make finding your best fit even MORE important and complex.
Right now, the ONLY compensation you can accept as a collegiate student-athlete is a scholarship, which means colleges compete on price, but whatever discount or subsidy a school offers (or the ultimate cost of attendance) is the only financial consideration for your search. With NIL reform, a tuition discount or total cost of college is no longer the only financial consideration in play. Being able to play right away, getting support from the athletic department in building your NIL value, etc. may outweigh athletic scholarships for key student-athletes. It can also make playing at a higher profile Division 3 school more attractive, since playing for a school like Washington University – St. Louis could raise your NIL profile more than competing at Southeast Missouri State in many sports!
Do you still go “Division 1 or bust” or do you “max out your ability to monetize your NIL payout in the moment?” We will still be advising aspiring college student-athletes to weigh all these factors in determining their best fit! Because your NIL rights come with YOU not the college, you may have an easier time prioritizing your preferences in terms of class size, program quality relative to the people they play, overall environment, alignment with your educational and life goals, etc. rather than worrying primarily about the size of a tuition discount.
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