TrackThe athletic scholarship world can be confusing.  Once you start down the recruiting road, you get bombarded with options and opportunities.  As you may have experienced, it’s hard to know what advice to follow and what options to pursue.  And which advice is just plain bad.

The window of opportunity is limited.  No matter what year your athlete is in, he or she only has so much time to get on coaches’ radar, get recruited, and then get scholarship offers.  You have to make the most of the time.

Here are three red flags to watch out for on your scholarship journey.

1.  Consultants or services that make scholarship promises.  No one can ever guarantee that your son or daughter will get a scholarship.  Outright promises or strong suggestions to this end should set off alarms in your head.  Avoid these people.

Instead, get honest evaluations of your kid’s talent.  College coaches will tell you if you ask.  The problem is that most parents don’t want to know the truth deep down inside.  I know.  I’ve been there.  We believe our kids are better than they are, or we underestimate their talent.  Either extreme is bad.  An honest evaluation will tell you what level your athlete performs at.   You’ll have a better idea of where he or she can compete and use their talents.

You want the program and school that are the best fit athletically, academically and in college life.  There are more factors than just money when it comes to choosing a school.

2.  Online registries.  Just because your athlete’s profile is parked with an online registry, it doesn’t mean he or she will get activity and interest from college coaches.  You still need to work your plan to make your son or daughter known to college coaches.  Online registries are static.  You need action.

I recommend using online registries as a place to park your resume and video.  But you still need to get coaches to the site.  You can’t sit back and wait.

An even better plan is to build your own website.  These days, that’s not hard.  Your son or daughter could probably do it themselves.  Begin by getting a domain name and web host.  Then use a WordPress theme to build your site.

3.  Too small a list of prospective schools.  Coaches are recruiting athletes, and athletes need to recruit schools.  Just like coaches have a long list of prospects, so you need to have a long list of schools.  I recommend starting with 40-50 schools minimum.  Pursue each school in your family’s recruiting strategy.

The reason for a large list is because at least half will be eliminated right away when coaches don’t respond to your contacts.  It doesn’t mean your kid lacks talent.  It means this is not a good fit.  It may have to do with academics, lack of openings at that position, or a number of reasons.  Your list will shrink as time goes on.

If you start with a a list that is too small, you’ll be out of options soon.  Start with a big list, respond to every coach who contacts you, and continually add to your list throughout the process.  Your family’s interests will change over time and you’ll discover programs that are a better fit along the way.  Building your list is not a one-time task.

There is so much more that you need to know, but avoiding these red flags will keep you from going down costly wrong roads.

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