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College Admissions: 5 Hard Truths About Athletic Recruiting

Monday, May 05, 2014

 

Sports recruiting for potential college athletes is fraught with anxiety and mystery. Why do some kids get noticed and others don’t? Where is the best scholarship money? Why aren’t coaches calling me? Adding sports to the college admission process makes things MUCH more confusing and emotional. It is a very time consuming process, and a lot of specialized knowledge is required. Before you begin your search for the right college and team, here are the key things that athletes need to know:

1. Target schools that are the best fit for you academically first, then think about sports.

The reality is that less than 30% of students who start playing a team sport in college are still playing that sport in senior year. Injuries happen, students fail to make the minimum GPA, players get cut because of talent, etc. If any of these things happen at a D1 university, chances are that you can wave goodbye to your athletic scholarship. Even if you do play all four years, less than 2% of college athletes will go pro. So in the end, your best chance for the future is to focus on colleges that will propel you on to a great career or graduate school. Pushing a top athlete who is a weak student into an intensely competitive college doesn’t usually make sense. Chances are that the student won’t be happy or academically successful. Conversely, a top student shouldn’t go to a college that has a less competitive peer group and academics just because the coach is heavily recruiting him/her.

2. The biggest recruiting myth is “if you are talented enough, the coaches will find you."

If you are sitting in a city that is a D1 sports Mecca like Chicago or Dallas that might happen, but otherwise, it is unlikely. You need to proactively contact coaches and get yourself noticed. First, ask your present coach what level

he/she feels you could play in college. Then, consider colleges on your list from that level and below (just because you CAN play D1, doesn’t mean you SHOULD play D1). Get coach e-mail addresses from college websites and send your athletic resume. Then, follow-up with a phone call and supply video. Mass recruiting services that promise to blast your information to hundreds of coaches are not the solution.

Coaches rarely pay attention to mail from recruiting services, and NCAA rules prohibit coaches from speaking to paid sports recruiters about potential athletes. Coaches want to hear from the student or team coach, not a parent and not a sports recruiter.

3. If you want to be recruited for D1 sports, you need to start by 10th grade.

Most D1 coaches evaluate kids in 10th and 11th grades and make commitments by the end of junior year. Some sports like swimming run later, but not many. More importantly, parents need to remember that although D1 schools are famous for scholarship money, VERY few students get a full ride, and the coach can only pull a few kids through admissions. D2 colleges also have a small pool of athletic scholarship money that has to be divided sparingly. For recruiting contact rules and to register at the NCAA Clearing House (required for D1 and D2 recruits), go to http://www.ncaa.org.

4. D3 is the untapped goldmine.

Families tend to overlook highly ranked D3 colleges which are often very wealthy and can give students much larger scholarships than a D1 or D2 school. Although NCAA rules prohibit D3 colleges from awarding money for athletic talent, many D3 athletes receive generous need and merit-based aid. The D3 timeline for recruiting is also much more realistic if you start the process late. Most D3 coaches recruit athletes into the fall of senior year. Remember, that highly ranked D3 teams can be very competitive and often have better skilled athletes than lower level D1 colleges. Also, the time demands can be more realistic for students pursuing a difficult major.

5. Travel teams, showcases and college-based sports camps are critical to getting seen by coaches.

If you aren’t doing one or more of these things, it’s doubtful you will be recruited. Opportunities vary by sport, and it only makes sense to pay for showcases and college camps where the coaches from your target schools will be present. A college counselor who is well-versed in athletic recruiting or your coach can tell you where the high visibility opportunities are for your particular sport and target colleges.

In the end, remember that being a recruited athlete is an emotional roller coaster. Coaches will show interest one day and drop you for another recruit the next day. You need to have thick skin and be laser focused on the academic and personal aspects of each college, not just the team ranking.

Cristiana Quinn, M.Ed. is the founder of College Admission Advisors, LLC which provides strategic, college counseling and athletic recruiting services for students. www.collegeadvisorsonline.com.

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Related Slideshow: Top New England Colleges According to Business Insider

See how New England colleges ranked in the latest Business Insider.

Below is the list of how the region's representatives stacked up against each other -- as well as how they fared overall.  

Prev Next

#13 Wesleyan University

Overall Rank: 49

Location: Middletown, CT

Score: 2.73 out of 5

Tuition and Fees: $47,244

Business Insider: "With roughly 2,900 undergraduates on a 316-acre campus overlooking the Conn. River, Wesleyan uses its small size to provide highly personal faculty support and customizable programs of study to students.

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a 1,000-person reader survey that asked how much each college will help students succeed in life. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.
Prev Next

#12 Boston University

Overall Rank: 45

Location: Boston, MA

Score: 2.79 out of 5

Tuition and Fees: $44,910

Business Insider: "A concrete campus located in the bustling city of Boston, BU has nearly 100 study abroad programs in 23 countries, an active social media presence with more than 200 Facebook pages and groups, and 20-plus NCAA Division I varsity sports, including a multiple NCAA national championship-winning hockey team."

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a 1,000-person reader survey that asked how much each college will help students succeed in life. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.
Prev Next

#11 Wellesley College

Overall Rank: 44

Location: Wellesley, MA

Score: 2.86 out of 5

Tuition and Fees: $43,544

Business Insider: "Madeleine Albright, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Diane Sawyer are among the nearly 37,000 living alumni of Wellesley College, an institute with an unwavering commitment to empowering women to make a difference in the world. Students are central to decision-making at this liberal arts college: They serve on major committees of the board of trustees, participate in faculty search, and contribute to strategic planning."

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a 1,000-person reader survey that asked how much each college will help students succeed in life. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

Prev Next

#10 Middlebury College

Overall Rank: 40

Location: Middlebury, VT

Score: 2.94 out of 5

Tuition and Fees: $57,075

Business Insider: "Renowned for leadership in language instruction and environmental studies, Middlebury emphasizes close interaction between students and faculty as the core of its education. All courses are taught by faculty members, rather than graduate assistants, and 65% of classes contain fewer than 20 students."

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a 1,000-person reader survey that asked how much each college will help students succeed in life. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.
Prev Next

#9 Tufts University

Overall Rank: 37

Location: Medford, MA

Score: 3.07 out of 5

Tuition and Fees: $46,598

Business Insider: "Tufts University encourages students to pursue interdisciplinary studies at its two colleges, the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering. An overwhelming 90% of students are enrolled in the first, which boasts a liberal arts college feel in a research-rich environment."

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a 1,000-person reader survey that asked how much each college will help students succeed in life. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.
Prev Next

#8 Boston College

Overall Rank: 36

Location: Boston, MA

Score: 3.09 out of 5

Tuition and Fees: $46,088

Business Insider: "Boston College jumps four spots on our list, thanks in part to its tremendous growth in recent years. Undergraduate applications have soared 75% over the past decade, and voluntary giving by alumni has increased the university's endowment to $1.9 billion."

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a 1,000-person reader survey that asked how much each college will help students succeed in life. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.
Prev Next

#7 Amherst College

Overall Rank: 27

Location: Amherst, MA

Score: 3.31 out of 5

Tuition and Fees: $58,744

Business Insider: "Ranked the second-best liberal arts school in the nation, according to U.S. News and World Report, Amherst College climbed four spots on our list this year."

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a 1,000-person reader survey that asked how much each college will help students succeed in life. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.
Prev Next

#6 Williams College

Overall Rank: 23

Location: Williamstown, MA

Score: 3.40 out of 5

Tuition and Fees: $46,600

Business Insider: "Williams was number 27 on last year's list, but our readers voted it up to No. 23 this time around. A top liberal arts college, Williams is set to host its own TEDx conference for students and faculty in January 2014."

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a 1,000-person reader survey that asked how much each college will help students succeed in life. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.
Prev Next

#5 Brown University

Overall Rank: 20

Location: Providence, RI

Score: 3.60 out of 5

Tuition and Fees: $45,612

Business Insider: "Brown is known for being the most individualistic of the Ivies, and with some of the happiest students."

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a 1,000-person reader survey that asked how much each college will help students succeed in life. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.
Prev Next

#4 Dartmouth College

Overall Rank: 9

Location: Hanover, NH

Score: 3.96 out of 5

Tuition and Fees: $46,752

Business Insider: "At 4,200 enrolled undergraduate students, Dartmouth is the smallest of the Ivies. But its size has no bearing on the prestige of its programs; the school was ranked No. 1 in undergraduate teaching courses by U.S. News & World Report for the fourth year in a row."

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a 1,000-person reader survey that asked how much each college will help students succeed in life. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.
Prev Next

#3 Yale University

Overall Rank: 5

Location: New Haven, CT

Score: 4.25 out of 5

Tuition and Fees: $44,125

Business Insider: "Our readers were not shy in praising Yale's hardworking professors: 'Yale is still the best ranking... school thanks to it[s] high profile faculty," one respondent pointed out. 'It's them who keep Yale in the top.'"

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a 1,000-person reader survey that asked how much each college will help students succeed in life. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.
Prev Next

#2 Harvard University

Overall Rank: 3

Location: Cambridge, MA

Score: 4.42 out of 5

Tuition and Fees: $42,292

Business Insider: "For the third year in a row, Harvard has held fast at No. 3. Harvard's most popular majors (or "concentrations," as they're called there) are economics and political science, and the Crimson school has been hailed for its think-outside-the-box approach to learning."

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a 1,000-person reader survey that asked how much each college will help students succeed in life. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

Prev Next

#1 MIT

Overall Rank: 1

Location: Cambridge, MA

Score: 4.5 out of 5

Tuition and Fees: $42,050

Business Insider: "The tech school admits fewer than 9 percent of applicants, some of whom have gone on to achieve prestigious awards like Nobel Prizes, National Medals of Science, MacArthur Grants, and National Medals of Technology and Innovation."

Business Insider's rating is scored out of 5 and is based on the results of a 1,000-person reader survey that asked how much each college will help students succeed in life. Tuition was used as a tiebreaker, with cheaper tuition pushing a school to a higher spot.

 
 

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