Are you a high school athlete interested in intercollegiate athletics? If so, here are a few things you should know.
Be realistic. Not many high school athletes can play basketball at Florida or football at USC. To find out where you might be able to play, speak with your coach and other objective adults. Then, take your list to your counselor to see which colleges are a good academic fit for you and to see if there are others you might want to consider as well.
Make sure you see and consider the whole picture, not just the colleges' athletic programs. Are the academic programs solid? Does the campus environment seem friendly? Do you like the location? And, the big question; Is it a college you might choose even if you were not an athlete?
Don't rule out colleges simply because you have not heard much about them. Mount Union, Kentucky Wesleyan, and Kenyon are three colleges you may not have heard of, but all have distinguished themselves in athletics. There are dozens more like them in every sport you can name.
Don't forget that athletic scholarships are not the only way for you to get financial help...there are many other forms of aid. And, remember that there are some terrific NCAA Division II and Division III teams, as well as some fine NAIA and junior college programs you may wish to look at.
Don't forget, even for a minute, that achieving your athletic goals is not nearly as important as leaving college with a good education and a degree. And, leaving college with a degree will not mean you have gotten a good education if you have selected courses only to remain eligible for athletics. Sadly, there are coaches (including some well known names) who appear to be more interested in wins and losses than the welfare of the student-athletes on their teams. Be on the alert for them.
Make sure you read up on the operative regulations governing recruiting and consult with your high school coach if you have questions or concerns. Strict adherence to all (NCAA, NAIA, and/or NJCAA) regulations is critical.
Too learn as much as possible about the colleges you are considering, be sure to be in touch with admissions offices. They will provide you with much more comprehensive publications and information than you are likely to get from coaches. Coaches, to nobody's surprise, are very focused on athletics, while good admissions counselors are likely to know far more about academics, campus life, student support services, etc.
Don't worry to much about listed college costs. What it will actually cost you may be far less.
Coaches receive lots of inquiries, so you may not receive an immediate reply to your letter or email. Thus, don't be too impatient. However, if you've not heard from a coach you contacted within a month, try again. Be aware that some coaches will not be interested in you and may therefore never respond.
And, be aware that even the coaches that do respond to you with letters, brochures and emails may not have a serious interest in you or may want to seriously recruit you only if the athletes in whom they are most interested decide to go elsewhere. That being the case, continue to communicate with all coaches who appear to be interested in you until you have and accept a firm offer from a college. It's the best way to protect yourself against disappointment.
After you have commited to a college or university, send an email or letter thanking the coaches who showed some level of interest in you. Not only is it good manners, but it might help you if you later decide, for any reason, to transfer.
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Daniel Z. Kane, now a university dean, has also coached in two sports. You can find lots of helpful information on his websites about college playing sports in college , and online colleges .
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