College planning is a complex process. An inexpensive college education can cost $16,000 over 4 years, while others can cost more than $150,000. Books alone can cost nearly $1,000 per year (used books). Every year HP Panthers student-athletes and parents seek college advice or athletic scholarship information. Unfortunately some student-athletes haven’t prepared and have difficulties. This guide is an aid to get you on the right track. It’s never too early to begin planning, however this guide is targeted to our high school student-athletes. This guide applies to all college-bound high school students/athletes. We’ve included a list of resources mostly web resources to assist you. However, if you’re a book person, we’ve included some good ones. We would recommend College Planning for Dummies. Hopefully, this information will get you thinking of what you need to do to get to the college of your choice.
Take QUALITY college prep courses (Honors, AD, AG, AP & IB), take SAT or ACT early (11th grade), retake it if necessary, study hard and do your BEST. Students in the tough academic courses are exposed to more material, will usually score better on SAT/ACT tests and are better prepared for the rigor of a college curriculum. College is not the 13th grade. College admissions officials say, typically 85 percent of college selection decisions are based on academic performances. Additionally you need to be involved in a few meaningful extracurricular activities to demonstrate leadership and civic commitment. Find a few activities that you like and stick with them so you become a major contributor with that group. You will gain valuable experience, demonstrate leadership and have something to talk about during those all important college interviews. Then, visit colleges, attend college fairs, make some decisions about majors and college preferences. Visit http://www.nacac.com/p&ssenior.html. It’s a website run by a national organization of college guidance counselors. Click on your grade, it will advise you what you need to do by month. You can also use other college planning calendars. There is no substitute for a strong academic record. The better your grades, the more scholarship choices you have.
Decide what major you want to pursue—what career you may want to have. This is tough for many high schoolers. Making some decisions now will save you time and money later. It will help you avoid spending years at a college that doesn’t offer what you want to study. Remember, you are young, you can change your mind later, but you need a starting point. Your major should be your starting points in deciding what colleges you’re interested in. Do you prefer small or large college? How far from home are you willing to go? Do you prefer a rural or urban environment? How important is having a small teacher to student ratio? Refer to a college planning manual (in guidance office) such as College Planning for Dummies for a list of college considerations.
Nobody will knock on your door and hand out college scholarship money. The billions $$ in college scholarships given every year will go to those who are prepared academically, who has researched, tested, written the essays, visited the colleges, met the deadlines, and pestered officials to get the information. Use college scholarship sites like www.fastweb.orgMany scholarships require that you submit an essay or essays as part of the process. If you are serious about going after scholarships, consider going to www.commonapp.org and writing out the required essays (a great summer project for rising senior) Edit them, revise them and get them proofed. You will find that many of the college applications and scholarships ask you to write the same essay questions or something very similar. If you’ve already written out the essay, it’s easy to tailor it for a specific admissions/scholarship application. Visit your counseling office for college planning information & ask your school counselor for college scholarship information. Take the initiative. Make an appointment with your guidance counselor and express your desire to go to college and your need for help. If you are serious about pursuing
One mistake many college-bound students is not applying or applying early enough to colleges. In the October through December timeframe, you should apply to the colleges of your choice. Find out the deadlines for applications, some colleges will not consider applicants who apply after certain dates for scholarships etc. Some schools just have early deadlines. Consider at least three colleges, preferably five or so. I know it costs money; however, acceptance at your college may trigger the best scholarship and financial aid opportunities. Keep copies of your college applications (printed out your online applications) and money orders or credit card statements. Ensure you follow-up with colleges you’ve applied to either by phone or using their online services. Colleges are flooded with thousands of applications, sometimes they misfile something.
All entering freshman should complete their FAFSA forms for financial aid. Even if you don’t think you’re going to be eligible for financial aid, complete it anyway. Most scholarships require you complete it. Most academic scholarships require it be completed. Get a paper copy at your guidance office or complete it on line @ www.fastweb.org which has the online application and will identify several scholarship opportunities that may apply to you. Remember financial aid is time-sensitive, since most colleges receive a lump sum of financial aid funding. When its gone, its gone. Get started on this with your parents in January and February since it relies on your parents tax documents for completion. Despite the fact that the forms says the deadline for completion is July, most colleges in the state of North Carolina have deadlines in March.
Get Real!! Track scholarships are competitive. Only 1 in 77 high school track athletes will receive any type of scholarship for a college. Most are partial scholarships. (Source: www.dyestat.com) You need to ask yourself a couple of crucial questions. Am I that good? Am I willing to do what it takes to become that good? Am I disciplined enough to undergo the intense athletic training (two a day practices are common) and sit up late to complete my studies each day? Start talking early with your coaches about what you need to do to become a college athlete. Get Real! If you bag a full ride scholarship, you’re incredibly fortunate. So, prepare to enter college as a non-athlete also. If you’re already accepted to a college through the normal process, it shows the coach that you’re serious and may move you up on their offer list. A student who’s already accepted at their school is much more valuable to a coach than someone with similar athletic talent, but who is academically questionable.
Athletic scholarships are one-year scholarships. They are renewable based on performance and circumstances. They may be partial or offer a “full ride”. A partial scholarship might be $500 or it might pay 90% of your college costs. If you accept a partial, make sure you and your parents can afford to pay the balance. An athlete may be offered an 85% scholarship to a major university. When when you do the math, you may still have to pay ($2000-5000) plus books ($1000-1200) per year. Negotiate with the head track coach. If your track performances continues at a high level or improves they may up it to a full-scholarship or there may be grants-in-aid that may make up the differences. Scholarship offers are negotiable. It’s vital that you understand the National Letter of Intent and Aid to Athlete Statements which you and your parents must sign and complete before being accepted as a college student-athlete.
College coaches are limited in the number of scholarships they can give, especially in a non-revenue generating sport like track and field. So, they don’t have a lot of scholarship $$$ to throw around. Athletes with strong academic averages and SAT/ACT scores are more attractive to them because they can help find other sources of scholarship funds for them and save some of their athletic funds to spend on other athletes. It’s common for an academically strong athlete to get a partial academic scholarship and a partial athletic scholarship; together these scholarships may amount to a full ride. A full ride refers to a scholarship that pays all tuition (classes & fees), books, and room and board (housing & meal plan). I cannot emphasize enough that you must do your level best academically in high school. Also, coaches know strong academic athletes stay eligible in college and are more valuable to their teams.
Only athletes cleared through the NCAA Clearinghouse are eligible for athletic scholarships. Several athletes each year get their scholarship offers denied because they didn’t meet the academic and college testing standards of the NCAA Clearinghouse. To be cleared, athletes must graduate high school, complete a set number of college preparatory courses, and attain a certain cumulative grade point average and SAT or ACT score. Ensure you’re taking college prep courses—Active Physics, Intro to Math and Tech Math—aren’t recognized. The lower your cumulative academic average the higher you must score on the SAT or ACT test. Remember the lower your cumulative GPA is the higher you must score on the SAT to meet the Clearinghouse standards. Apply for NCAA Clearinghouse eligibility at the end of your high school junior year. There is a small processing fee, however, fee waivers are available based on income. See a counselor or search some sites below.
www.ncaaclearinghouse.net or http://www.ncaa.org/library/general/cbsa/2006-07/2006-07_cbsa.pdf for the Guide For College Bound Athletes for the details to ensure you’re squared away. I recommend you check this out by your junior year. When you take the SAT or ACT tests ensure that you check off that you want your score sent to the NCAA Clearinghouse. Also, the www.ncaa.org site will tell you the does and don’t of the recruiting process, so you can avoid recruiting scandals.
There’s a lot at stake here. All juniors & seniors should prepare an academic/athletic resume to send to track coaches at colleges you are interested in. If you need help preparing yours contact me. As with any kind of resume, ensure it’s 100% accurate and grammatically correct. Don’t guess what your grade point average is, go to guidance and ensure that what you put on the resume is current and correct. I can’t stress this enough. Every single fact must be 100% correct. Your credibility is on the line. Have someone you trust with good English skills proof-read it. Also, you can call or visit college track departments or make informal visits (at your own expense). Many schools have a questionnaire on their website devoted to prospective athletes.
Respond Promptly: When you receive mail from colleges interested in recruiting you, if you are the least bit interested in that college, respond quickly. It forms a lasting impression. Organize your college materials. Get some files and keep your materials where you can find them. Keep copies of any paperwork you send to colleges.
Make A Video: College track coaches don’t have big travel budgets to see all the athletes they want to, so ensure you have some video of your performances, especially for technical events such as hurdles, throws, & jumps. It doesn’t have to be a major production, just borrow a camcorder and get going. College coaches want to see your technique. Video played an important part in the athletic offers for both my sons’ & my daughters’ athletic scholarships. Coaches and teammates can help.
What do you do if you’re an athlete who isn’t offered a scholarship offer? It’s not necessarily the end of your athletic dream. If you’re serious about your sport and your personal situation is right, you might make a great walk-on candidate. Many of the athletes you will see on a college roster are walk-ons.WALK-ONS are college athletes who are not on scholarship. However, many of these walk-ons will make themselves so valuable to their team that they may be offered a scholarship later.
Let’s say Way-Out There University offers you a great scholarship. Think about it before you sign up. Am I really going to be OK at a huge university 100 miles from the nearest city where I have to practice in 20-30o F much of the year and won’t be able to see my family but once a year?
High School Counseling Office: Put your counselor to work!!! Arrange an appointment with your counselor. Read their scholarship bulletins & college catalogs weekly. Snatch up those college planning brochures/magazines. Sign up when college recruiters show up.
Public Libraries: Seek college catalogs. College Handbooks, and pamphlets. See References Below:
schedules/registration. Practice tests.
College planning calendar. Select your grade. It will tell you what to consider by month.
NC college applications, financial aid/scholarship. College planning aids
This is a common application which is accepted by many colleges. Call the colleges you’re applying to they may accept it. So you may just have to fill out one application. Writing out the essay questions are great preparation for other admissions/scholarship applications.
SAT schedules/registration. Practice tests. Several Short College planning articles.
College Planning For Dummies by Pat Ordovensky (book).
Hard to find in bookstores, you may have to order it try
A Parent’s and Student–Athlete’s Guide To Athletic Scholarships Ride by Dion Wheeler (book)
A great source of information about the NCAA rules & procedures and the NCAA Guide For The College-Bound Athlete.
College search site.
Home page for student financial aid.
Scholarship & college search site.
Essential source for applying for student financial aid.
I put this guide together based on my experiences with my (3) children college preparation & the (23) others that have come through the HP Panthers Track Club,(that were offered athletic and academic scholarships), working with a number of other HP Panthers college-bound athletes and high school students, discussions with high school guidance counselors, college admissions personnel and coaches, and from researching the subject.
If you find this guide useful; have comments; or if you need help in college planning, please contact us.