Watching your child grow and excel in sports can provide many rewarding moments. Being an avid observer to these athletic moments may lead eager parents into believing that their son or daughter was born to be a professional athlete and the natural next step after high school is the collegiate sports level.
This may be true for the less than 1% of high school athletes who make it to professional sports, but for most student-athletes having the opportunity to play in college is an experience and education that is well earned. A successful student-athlete is one who has support from family members, but also wants to continue their sports career after high school.
TOPICS FOR FAMILY DISCUSSIONS
You would never force your child into competing at a level they did not feel confident in, nor would you force your kid to participate in a sport that they did not enjoy. Consider this when college talk begins to pop up in your household. The college search should be discussed as a family, with the student-athlete taking the lead and doing most if not all of the organizing and contacting of colleges.
MONEY ISSUES NEED TO BE ADDRESSED
You need to consider what the monetary allowance would be and, if needed, consider researching student loans and completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) application.
OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS
There are more topics that should be discussed when determining what college is best suited for your child. These include the location of the school (big city or rural), the tuition, private or public institution, majors offered, and goals for attending college.
Athletic questions to consider for family discussions should begin with those regarding the athletic program, the coaching staff, types of academic support for athletes and summer school classes offered. You can also discuss travel expenses, added expenses that a student-athlete may face, time off, training and practices, and scholarship money available.
THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR PREPARATION
Being prepared and having a list of questions that need to be answered before you and your family begin reaching out to athletic programs and coaches will definitely help to make sure that your family is on the same page. Deciding what types of colleges and athletic programs will be the best match for your child doesn’t just happen–it takes some planning.
If your son or daughter wants to learn more about the benefits of college athletics, be sure to be the resource they need. Explain to them that it may not be an easy process and there may be some rejection along the way.
Encourage your student-athlete to begin practicing good organization skills to stay on top of their recruiting. Systems that may be helpful are file organizers to keep track of coaches that your child is in contact with (including letters that your child has received from colleges) along with notes on the colleges that they have contacted. Set aside some time each week to go through the correspondence with schools and coaches.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Look into what type of grades are acceptable for the different colleges in addition to score requirements for tests such as the SAT and ACT. Remember that if your child chooses to participate in sports at the NCAA DI, DII or the NAIA then they will have to meet academic requirements as well as gain acceptance into the university.
Have your child talk with their high school counselor to go over grades and coursework that is accepted at the NCAA and NAIA level as a freshman so that they will be on the right track throughout college.
TAKE THE TIME TO DO IT RIGHT
Recruiting is a long and time consuming process. Help prepare your child by providing them material with tasks and duties they should be doing each year of school (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior) to move forward in their recruitment process. This will assist the student-athlete to be in control of their recruitment and not be overwhelmed when it comes time to juggling sports, school and recruiting.