The goal of this series is to not only help parents develop a long-term game plan toward getting their child recruited, but to help them be proactive and realistic toward their child’s collegiate recruitment. Most families think there are unlimited amounts of athletic scholarships available but have no idea how much competition there is for each dollar nor do they understand how unbelievably dynamic and athletic those qualifying for those scholarships have to be.
This will be a three part series and include how to prepare financially, maximizing talent, and maximizing recruitment in order to help parents give their child the most choices for college by making it as inexpensive as possible. Parents, and especially student-athletes, need to understand that their future is in their hands and their hands alone. It is not the high school or club coaches job to get them recruited. It is theirs. College coaches just don’t find athletes randomly. Families need a plan and to be proactive about gaining exposure.
If you are a parent with young children, the prospect of retiring with a strong portfolio and sending your child to a good college may seem like an unrealistic goal, if not a very daunting task. Tuition costs at colleges across the country seem to be growing at uncontrolled percentages year after year. With public schools struggling to keep up with so many states facing financial difficulties, public tuition is following the same path as its private college brethren. Every school is competing for the top faculty, the biggest potential donors, and the development of academic programs that interest the present generation of computer wizards (at least from the perspective of a guy who didn’t grow up with computers, cell phones, etc.).
You and your parent peers are no dummies. You hear about your neighbor’s kid getting a full-ride to play volleyball at a local Division I state school or a cousin signing to play football at a junior college for two years tuition free, and it is hard not to get serious about getting your child serious about developing their athletic prowess. The problem is that your kid isn’t terribly tall or athletic; even though, they love playing. How do you make your child’s dreams of going to college a reality?
Step 1: Early Investment
Whether it is $10 per week or a couple hundred dollars a month, don’t waste another day putting money away for your child(ren)’s college tuition. Whether you put the money into an interest-based savings account, bonds, a money market or a CD, as long as you are making interest on that money, you are doing well. There are great plans out there that will help you grow your investment, but I highly recommend talking to a financial adviser about a 529 plan. Most states have one, and you usually have the freedom to invest with your state of choice or multiple states if you choose.
The great thing about the 529 is that the money invested and earned can be used in any capacity to help for college. If your children end up getting a full scholarship and not needing that money, you can use the money toward just about anything including going back to school yourself or for a younger sibling or to put toward a new computer, books, housing, etc. To get the full details, definitely reach out to your local financial adviser. The link to understanding the 529 is below.
Step 2: Academic Commitment
What most families don’t understand is that only 6.7% of the 7.5 million high school students playing high school sports right now will play in college. Less than 1% of that 6.7% will get a NCAA Division I scholarship. The chances of your child getting a full D1 athletic scholarship are just a little better than the chances of your child becoming an astronaut [sarcasm], but you catch the drift. Division 1 scholarships only account for about 20% of the athletic scholarships given each year. The other 80% come from NCAA Division II, NAIA, and Junior Colleges. NCAA Division III institutions are not allowed to give any financial aid based on our child’s athletic prowess…only academic success earned. [Don’t let that deter you from DIII schools. They are some of the best schools in the country and often will compete financially, even without athletic scholarships.]
With that said, it is important that your child makes a commitment to their academics early beginning no later than their freshman year of high school. Most Divisions (except D1 football and basketball) allow the Athletic programs to stack academic scholarships with athletic scholarships. This means that the better your son or daughter’s GPA and SAT/ACT scores are, the more attractive your child is to a college coach.
For instance, let’s say that I am a NCAA Division II basketball coach. I have one $35,000 full scholarship left, but I need a center and a point guard to commit in next year’s class. I have two point guards that I like a lot. One is your son. The other player has a 2.9 GPA and an 18 ACT. Your son has a 3.5 GPA and a 25 ACT. My University only gives academic money to students who have a minimum GPA of 3.2 and a minimum ACT of 22. The other player is a little bigger and more athletic than your son, but both have the abilities and basketball IQ I am looking for. Which player do I offer a scholarship to?
If the talent is that balanced between the two young men, I am giving an athletic scholarship to your son. I know my University is going to offer him $18,000 in academic scholarship and University grants (all gift aid that doesn’t need to be paid back). I now can give your son a $17,000 athletic scholarship, and we will call it a full-ride with the academic money stacked. If I chose the other player, I would have to give my entire $35,000 in scholarship money to give him a full-ride. With your son committing to me, I now have $18,000 left in athletic money to go get the center I need.
So, to sum up, the higher your child’s cumulative high school grades (FR-SR) and the higher the test scores (ACT/SAT), the more money a University is going to give him. The more money the University gives him, the less athletic scholarship money the college coach needs to give your son…making him that much more attractive to the college coach.
Step 3: Create Recruitment Competition
The real key to a strong financial recruitment plan is to create a competition for your child’s skills, abilities, and academic prowess. The more college coaches that want your son/daughter, the harder they will work to make their school look more attractive ($$$$). How do you do this? I call it the three E’s:
Exposure: Get your child’s performance in front of as many college coaches as possible. On-line video is the best way to achieve this and the least expensive.
Evaluation: Make sure you have edited/verified video that can be sent to hundreds of coaches who fit your child’s academic/athletic profile. Coaches are NOT showing up at your child’s games randomly.
Education: It is imperative that your child learn early on how to communicate with coaches and learn how to build relationships with those coaches. Coaches love kids who handle their business instead of mom and dad serving as their agents. Too much parent involvement can destroy your child’s recruitment efforts.
There is no better resource for creating that competition than NCSA, the National Collegiate Scouting Association (www.ncsasports.org). They have strong relationships with over 42,000 coaches nation-wide at all levels and with 29 sports, and they have a proven formula to help you develop a strong plan toward creating competition for your child, and therefore, scholarship opportunity.
For those of you who like to do your own research, I highly recommend the following sites. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Invest a dollar today and save ten dollars tomorrow.
If you would like a formal evaluation of our child’s athletic and academic potential, feel free to reach out to me directly at my information below.
Good luck! Get aggressive and stay aggressive. Your child controls their own future!
Coach Matt RogersTwitter: @madcoachdiary
Matt Rogers is an 18-year high school and college coach veteran. He has led two teams to the NCAA National Tournament and one team to a High School State Championship. His teams hold numerous school and one NCAA record. He has mentored and coached players at every level while serving as an athletics administrator at the high school and NCAA levels for 9 years. He has helped numerous players continue their careers at the professional level. He currently is the Head National Scout for NCSA Athletic Recruiting where he has helped hundreds of young men and women from around the world achieve their dreams of playing at the college level. Coach presently lives in the Denver, CO area with his wife of 17 years and his two children.
To request Coach Rogers to speak at your school or event, you can reach him through any of his contact information above.