Finding the Right College is a Four Quarter Game
By Richard Pound
April 21, 2009
Finding the right college is a four quarter game for student athletes.
11th Grade—3rd Quarter
Just as a quarterback discusses strategy with his coach, be sure to meet frequently with your counselor, coach, and athletic director to discuss post-high school athletic and academic plans. These professionals can be of immeasurable value as you work through this process.
Consider colleges that align with your academic achievement and athletic ability, but don’t be afraid to challenge yourself to achieve even greater levels of accomplishment. Keep in mind those key factors in finding the right fit financially, socially, academically, and athletically.
Continue to maintain high standards with your course selection, cumulative average, and standardized test scores. Take the required standardized tests—PSAT, SAT, SAT II, and ACT. Check out www.collegeboard.org or www.act.org for more information on these tests. Each test will have a list of Calendar Dates and Fees. Be mindful that additional processing fees add to the test fees and can accumulate quickly! Do it right the first time and you can reduce your overall expense.
Send for and read the literature distributed by colleges. Develop a personal statement and include it with all college applications you submit. You can use the Common Application for sample essay questions. A College Essay (i.e., your personal statement) should reflect everything about who you are and what distinguishes you from other applicants. Write with passion as you tell your story. A college does not want to hear how wonderful it is; the college wants to know how wonderful you are and how you can contribute to their school. Use spell check software to eliminate all spelling and grammatical errors, and ask an English teacher to proofread your essay and guide you about ways to concisely communicate your written thoughts.
I recommend that students visit all of the colleges in which they are interested, if possible. Take advantage of your school vacations and weekends during the school year for this important piece of the process. Students can also visit the summers before and after their junior year so as to avoid seasonal contest conflicts.
Most, if not all high schools schedule events to meet with College Representatives who visit your school. Mark these visits on your calendar. Attend Financial Aid Nights at your high school or send for financial aid information from each school you have an interest in. Speak with financial aid personnel regarding athletic and academic scholarships. Solicit teacher recommendations during your junior and senior years. Teachers are routinely open and eager to provide meaningful feedback to you.
3rd Quarter Athletic Assignments
For Division I & II prospective athletes only: You must register for the NCAA Clearinghouse by August following your junior year. Make sure you complete the Amateurism form and submit the Domestic Release form to your school counselor so they can forward your official transcript to the Clearinghouse. Continue to build on your resume` of athletic achievements, and keep records and lists of all of your extracurricular activities.
Be sure to communicate regularly with your coaches to identify strengths and areas for skill development. During your 3rd Quarter, ask your coach to prepare a thorough, formal evaluation of your athletic ability and recommend an appropriate—i.e., realistic—level of competition at the next level. Send a letter of introduction along with your athletic resume` to the coaches at those schools that you are interested in attending. The Internet will expedite this process. Continue to attend sports camps and explore opportunities to increase your exposure to coaches and recruiters—e.g., Empire State Games, travel teams, AAU, and sport camps. Meet with your high school coaches and other outside coaches whose opinion you respect regarding your active involvement in the recruitment process. Begin a file folder on each college/university that expresses a reciprocal interest in you.
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