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.
12th Grade—4th Quarter
Maintain regular contact with your school counselor; I continue to repeat this advice for a reason; it is critical to your own success. Don’t take a vacation academically! Many schools scrutinize this phase of your academic progress; just like the waning moments of a game calls on renewed focus and effort, so too does this process.
Request college applications as early as possible. Continue to take the standardized tests, especially if earlier results do not meet the minimum requirements for your target school. As your 4th quarter progresses, begin to narrow your preferred list of colleges to approximately 3-5 schools. Send completed applications and fees to these colleges/universities chosen. PAY ATTENTION TO APPLICATION DEADLINES!
Final Steps, 4th Quarter
Even if you’re independently wealthy, be sure to attend a Financial Aid information night. Complete and send the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as early as possible after January 1 of your senior year. Search for end-of-the-year scholarships using www.fastweb.com, In-House Scholarships, as well as Community awards that are available in your high school counseling center.
Finalize your resume and have it on-hand when you visit the campuses of those schools you have chosen. I strongly recommend that you call or write for an appointment to meet with a coach, admissions officer, financial aid advisor, and departmental chairperson. This is the best way to make sure you maximize the value of your visit.
4th Quarter Athletic Assignments
Contact college coaches to express interest in their school and athletic program. Send along your athletic resume` and any other pertinent information, including a cover letter that expresses your interest in their program. Neatness, follow-up, and demonstrated level of maturity will distinguish you from the multitude of applications these coaches review and consider. Consider scheduling a follow-up visit to find answers to questions that were not addressed earlier.
If you’re lucky enough be offered a National Letter of Intent, review all the fine print in the contract before you sign it. The NLI is a binding contract that carries with it severe ramifications if you do not adhere to all the details. Ask your parents, coaches, athletic director, and guidance counselor to join in the review effort. A successful process for you also means that these advisors have done their jobs well, and they will welcome the opportunity to guide you. Take advantage of their expertise.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations governing recruiting, eligibility, and financial aid as written by the NCAA. You can find this information at www.ncaa.org.
As I stated above, the recruiting and college search process can be both exhilarating and exhausting. Most of all, though, it can be wonderfully rewarding. Just as practice has prepared you for your sport, you must prepare mentally and physically to achieve the results you desire for your post-high school career.
Students and parents must take the initiative and work on their own behalf. Don’t sit back and wait for someone to do it for you. Control the process; don’t let the process control you!
Richard Pound is a consultant and author of Packaging Academics with Athletics
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