College Life

Baseball

When we were parents on the scholarship trail for our twin sons, we didn’t have the resources that are available today.

For instance, college websites weren’t as complete as they are now.  I don’t think Facebook existed.  We really had to dig.  We needed personal conversations with coaches and administrative staff to really get a picture of that school.  Today, you’ve got just about everything at your fingertips. Continue reading

College football coach Brady HokeIf your son or daughter is going to get an athletic scholarship, you both need to know what college coaches are looking for, what they expect and how they do their recruiting.  In other words, you need to know what they’re thinking.  And especially what they’re thinking about your athlete.

First of all, know that coaches are trying to fill specific spots on their roster.  They’re looking ahead to your athlete’s year of entry, and they’re considering whether they have a spot for within the first couple years your son or daughter would be there.  If your athlete is in a sport that has position players, they’ll be recruited if the coach knows that slot will be open in their freshman or sophomore year.

You need to understand this point.  It doesn’t matter how talented your son or daughter is if there isn’t an opening for them.

*** For more insights, I encourage you to listen to my podcast interview with D1 coach Tom Kunis Episode #4.  We go into depth about what college coaches are looking for. ***

Second, is your athlete going to be a good fit in the program and college?  College coaches look at these things.  They want to know if the chemistry is there and if your son or daughter truly want to compete in their program.  If an athlete doesn’t want to go across the country, but his parents are pushing him, coaches will pick that up.  They want to eliminate as much chance as possible that your son or daughter will transfer.  They do their best on the front end to see if there’s a good fit. You should want that, too. Continue reading

Final Four 2016I’m in Houston this week.  Unfortunately, I’m leaving Saturday morning at 5:30, when all the Final Four fans arrive.

What comes to mind is the number of high school athletes that make their school choice based on who they see on TV in the big games. Parents, you know what I’m talking about.

When you consider a college education is one of the biggest choices your family will ever make, it’s important to have more to go on than watching teams on TV.  You may have to convince your student-athlete about that.

Talk to your kid about the better way of making his or her hot list of schools. Remind them that the #1 priority is to find the best fit, or match, in the end.   Let’s look at four key matches to consider and discuss.

Academic match

This is first because your kid is a student-athlete.

Your list should include schools that have your kid’s area of academic interest.  This isn’t a hard and fast rule, because their interests are likely to change after they are in school for a year or two.  But a good starting point are schools that have majors that fit their interests.

As for me, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to study going into college.  I started in communications and ended up in radio and TV.  I knew I didn’t want to pursue engineering or science, so that narrowed it down to liberal arts.  That may be all you have to go on at this point, and that’s fine.

On the other hand, if your son or daughter has strong interests in a certain major or area, be sure to take that into account when you build your list of prospective schools.

Athletic match

Can your kid compete at the schools on his or her radar?  This is important, because you don’t want to put a lot of effort into programs that are way above their talent level, and you don’t want to shoot for ones that are way below.  You want to find the sweet spot. Go after those schools that are a good match.

This is where it’s important to open your son or daughter’s eyes to good institutions they’ve never considered.  As a parent, your role kicks in here.  Do some research and get a wider variety of schools on your kid’s radar.

The athletic match also includes the dynamics of coaching staff.  You won’t know this until you meet the coaches, but have this factor on your radar.

Aspirational match

I’m talking about your kid’s desires and dreams. What’s important to him or her in a college?  You should consider athletics, academics, college life, location, etc.  Listen to what your student-athlete has to say. Take note.  You may understand more than they do what their aspirations are.  As they verbalize those aspirations, they’ll get clarity, too.

Anecdotal match

What stories are coming out of the programs on your list?  You may not hear anything in the early going, but the more you get to know a coach and program, you should hear some stories that give you a better picture about the program and institution.

Ask other athletes in the program.  Talk to students there.  If you know other people who have gone to that school, talk with them.  Get as much information as you can from what others have to say about their experience.

When your kid hears these stories, how does he feel?  Is he attracted to the school or not?  While not a scientific evaluation, this can really help the “gut feeling” about a school.

And so…

I’m one who urges my families to cast your net wide.  Don’t come up with a short list out of the gate.  So, while I’m encouraging you to develop your list from the four keys above, don’t limit your choices early on.  Use these guidelines throughout the recruiting process, especially as you narrow down your choices.

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.

Continue reading

NCAA ConferencesFor a high school student-athlete, there aren’t many things more frightening than talking with a college coach on the phone. It can be daunting. And it should be. You’ve been dreaming of getting an athletic scholarship and now the coaches are calling. You’re on the spot.

You need to prepare for these occasions. Once you take a few calls, you’ll get more comfortable. That is, until you get a call from a coach you really want to play for. This school is on your A list. You’ve been hoping he or she will call. And now it happens. It can really make you nervous.

When taking a coach’s call, try to relax. He or she will understand you’re nervous. That’s ok.

Secondly, have a list of questions ready. If the coach is calling your cell phone, you’ll have to think quickly. The list will have to be in your head. Continue reading

Basketball in hoopGetting an athletic scholarship isn’t all about the money.  Parents and student-athletes can let their pride get in the way of the best choice.  They put the scholarship offer at the top of the list and the kid ends up at a college and program that aren’t the best fit.

In my case, I transferred after just one year.  I really enjoyed my first choice, the University of Minnesota.  But it wasn’t the best fit athletically or academically.

I have to admit that I transferred to Indiana University for athletic reasons, but other factors fell into place to make IU the best fit overall.  I’m glad for my Minnesota experience, but I’m thrilled for my Indiana experience.

I could have saved myself and my parents a lot of stress and expense had I known then what I know today. Continue reading

Baseball basketball volleyball footballIt’s November 1.  Do you have a 60-day recruiting plan?

“What’s that?” you ask.

Scholarships don’t happen.  Parents, you need to lead your son or daughter in the recruiting process.  It starts with a plan.

I challenge you to establish a 60-day plan, which will carry you through the end of the year.  This is a good time to do that, with the year-end as your finish line.  Your finish line to an athletic scholarship?  No, your next yard-marker.

Here are some things that you need to include in your 60-day plan: Continue reading

FootballFor many high school athletes, they make their college choice for the wrong reasons.  Here are my top 5 wrong reasons for choosing a particular program:

1.  My father (or mother) went there.

2.  They’re my favorite team.

3.  I like the campus. Continue reading

Cell phoneIn my last post, I went through a number of questions athletes should ask college coaches when the coaches call.  Or when you call a coach.  Recruiting is a two-way street.  While the coach is recruiting athletes, you are recruiting schools.  You should take the initiative to find out as much as you can about the program, coach and school.  That way you can make an informed decision.  Let’s continue from last week’s discussion.

College Life

What is a typical day for a student-athlete?
You will learn a typical schedule that will include courses, practices, meal times, study times, etc. This will give you insight as to how to manage your time and assist you with needed adjustments.

What does the institution’s services entail?
You will be informed of any study hall hours that may be required of you during your tenure. Also, this is a good time to ask about the availability of tutors. Continue reading