It’s spring! Students are busy playing their sport and dreaming of going on to play at college. What goes into helping a student athlete accomplish their dream? Our guest blogger, Katie Andersen of College Fit specializes in working with student athletes. Katie will be sharing in a series of blogs her approach to guiding student athletes through the college planning process, incorporating athletics as one component of the best fit. Check our blog each week to see Katie’s newest post.
College Counseling for Student Athletes
Part 1: Assess the Student-Athlete’s Priorities
My first step when meeting with a student-athlete who wants to play a sport in college is to understand his goals and motivation for wanting to play college athletics. I meet with both the student-athlete and his parents to make sure that each person is able to speak freely, but it’s extremely important that the student-athlete is able to answer the questions honestly and openly since he’s the one going to college.
During our first meeting I use the Athletic Worksheet and Design a College surveys, included in GuidedPath, to capture the relevant information about a student-athlete’s expectations regarding college life as both a student and an athlete. If everyone at the table has a laptop, I ask the student to fill out the survey online as we talk and the rest of us follow along as the survey answers refresh. Otherwise, I complete the survey on my laptop as we discuss each question.
I use the Athletic Worksheet survey as a starting point for discussing the student-athlete’s athletic priorities.
Overview – Many athletes play multiple sports, but usually specialize in one sport. List the top 3 sports. This information is also useful when completing the Student-Athlete Profile (later topic). I ask the student-athlete to also explain in his own words why he wants to play his sport in college.
Level of Play – College athletics is comprised of varying levels of play:
- NCAA Division 1 – Offer athletic scholarships, big athletic time commitment
- NCAA Division 2 – Offer athletic scholarships, big athletic time commitment, not as academically competitive as Division 1 schools
- NCAA Division 3 – Do not offer athletic scholarships (but offer merit awards to athletes based on academic performance), less athletic time commitment
- NAIA – Offer athletic scholarships, usually religiously affiliated schools, similar to Division 2 schools academically
The Level of Play question usually requires some discussion. Each division offers a range of competition, so I recommend that student-athletes consider schools from multiple levels in order to get the best chances for successful recruiting. If a student-athlete isn’t sure about which level is the best fit, I suggest that he asks for feedback from his coach (club or high school), personal trainer, or other evaluators in order to get a realistic starting point.
Motivation – I believe it is imperative to discuss the student-athlete’s motivation for playing college athletics. The answers to this question usually open the door for deeper discussion about the factors that are most important (athletic, academic, and financial) for both the student-athlete and his parents.
Academic Statistics – Academics play an important part in athletic recruiting. I always ask for the student’s transcript and available test scores during the first meeting to review NCAA or NAIA eligibility.
Testing – All student-athletes who want to compete for NCAA Div I, Div II, or NAIA schools must take the SAT or ACT and score at the minimum levels in order to meet NCAA or NAIA eligibility requirements. NCAA Div III schools should be evaluated separately regarding testing requirements.
I use the Design a College survey to capture the academic, social and financial factors that are important to the student-athlete. When I develop a college recruiting list I ask him to keep an open mind about these factors until we see which college coaches respond during the recruiting process.
I always emphasize the importance of selecting schools for athletic, academic, social, and financial fit. Student-athletes should consider schools where they would be happy students no matter what happens with athletics (injury, coach changes, decide to leave the team, etc.).
Once I have assessed the student-athlete’s priorities, then I develop a recruiting list.