Grades Do Matter
Myth: The coach can get me into a school if my grades are bad.
Like every myth there is a seed of reality to this one. Coaches can help athletes who might not have gotten into the University if they had applied on their own, but the athlete still needs to qualify for the academic admissions standards.
All schools have an academic standard that needs to be met by their students. Applicants who don’t meet that standard will not be accepted. For instance, you could be the best sprinter in the world, however, you will not be attending university on a track scholarship if you don’t take care of business in the classroom.
Your Senior Year
At the beginning of your senior year when the college application process is in full swing schools and coaches are going to ask for your transcripts and test scores. You have the remainder of your senior year to re-take tests and maintain your grade point average, but the records that they will be looking at are from your junior and sophomore years.
Your freshman and sophomore years are building years. Take these years to lay the ground work for your GPA and the courses you are going to take.
Your junior year is the most important. This is the year you should be taking the SAT and ACT for the first time. You will also want to make sure that your grades are high as colleges, get your GPA at the point you want colleges to see.
Before you have to worry about the academic qualifications of a university you need to make sure you are meeting the academic requirements of the NCAA or NAIA. Depending on what division you decide to compete at you have to meet certain academic requirements just to be eligible to play. Make sure you know the specific requirements while you are in high school so that you can take the proper classes and tests that are required.
Be a Student First
Don’t be fooled into thinking that while you’re in college you can take easy classes because “I’m really here to compete.” As a student athlete you are given unique privileges not offered to the rest of the student body. A “token degree” is not one of them.
You have to earn your right to be a student and stay in school. The athletic department will offer tools to help you through your education including athletic academic advisers, tutoring and priority registration. All of these tools are fabulous and helpful when going through college but you still have to keep up your end of the bargain by going to class and earning good grades.
Grades and Playing Time
Grades can affect if you play or not. You will have to meet a minimum GPA, take a certain number of units and follow an academic path toward graduation. If you do not follow these steps the coach is forced to not allow you to play until you do.
Teams Care About Graduation Rates
Just like you have to answer to your coaches with academic success the programs have to answer to the NCAA with graduation rates. If teams are not graduating a certain percentage of their athletes then they lose their rights as a team as well.
Remember it is called student-athlete for a reason. The word student is first because you are a student first. Earning a place on a college team is a great experience and lots of fun. Most importantly, though, it is an opportunity to earn your college degree.
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