College Planning Tips for Student Athletes

By on January 9, 2018

Being a student-athlete in college can be tough. You will be expected to attend classes, go to practices, keep up with school work, maintain good grades, compete in your sport, and somehow find time for sleep. In order experience all that college has to offer while representing your college or university, you will need to plan thoughtfully and master time management. Speak with your coaches, counselors and parents to review the application process and pick a school. And stay on the path to a successful student-athlete career by using your athletic mind to hit the books.

Applying for College as a Student Athlete

Whatever your sport or skill level, college offers high school athletes an opportunity to continue training and receive a world class education. From big-name varsity teams to campus intramural leagues, colleges have a variety of ways for student-athletes to hone their skills. If they are willing to cast a wide net to find the right college program, student-athletes will find that there are great schools at all sports level divisions with opportunities to play at the college level. If you’re a high school athlete, starting thinking about where you want to go with your sport or college degree. This will help you determine which division scouts you contact, how you take college prep tests, which college you choose and how you finance scholarships or loans.

Collegiate Athletic Divisions

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) governs the activities of college athletic programs and monitors the admission process to ensure everyone competes on an equal footing. If you are considering going to college as a student-athlete, you are required to file with the NCAA Clearinghouse to determine eligibility. Pre-college students should file the summer between junior and senior years, but it is possible to file later.
NCAA Division I – The most competitive division and offers athletic scholarships
NCAA Division II – Smaller but highly competitive athletic programs and offers some scholarship opportunities
NCAA Division III – Even smaller colleges and smaller athletic programs and there are no athletic scholarships. Financial aid and academic scholarships are available, along with chances to compete in your sport

Financing an Education

Many students dream of playing their sport at the college level and parents often dream of full athletic scholarships to pay for their child’s education. And there are scores of talented kids out there who deserve those scholarships, but according to the statistics, barely two percent (2%) of high school athletes are awarded athletic scholarships every year. Many of those scholarships in Division-I and -II are not the full rides that people dream about., but partial awards covering a small portion of the cost to attend the university and are

Whether you receive partial or full financial assistance, you will still need to fill out the FAFSA application. Then student-athletes will still need to sit down with their parents and a financial advisor to weigh their scholarship offers against traditional financing methods. And don’t forget to come up with contingency plans. Many athletic scholarships require a certain code of conduct or level of academic excellence from the student. If a student fails to maintain good grades that scholarship can be pulled, so make plans for financing your education in a worst-case scenario.

Follow the Rules

If you’re looking at Division I or II colleges, make sure that you fulfill all of the NCAA eligibility requirements by the time you graduate from high school. The NCAA requires that athletes in these divisions have completed a core curriculum with a minimum grade point average and a minimum SAT or ACT score. You could be forbidden from competing in college if you do not meet the eligibility requirements.

Student-Athlete Eligibility
All high school athletes that anticipate participating in a Division 1 or 2 college program must submit their high school transcripts to the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse. To make sure you fulfill the eligibility requirements, submit your high school transcript to the clearinghouse as early as possible, then you will have some time to schedule any remaining courses you may need to fulfill eligibility requirements.

The NCAA also has strict rules for recruitment of students into Division 1 and 2 programs. Most of these rules apply to the college and their coaches, but they affect students too. It’s in your best interest to find out what rules apply to you. The rules can be a bit complicated. If you’re not sure about NCAA recruitment requirements, talk with your guidance counselor and high school coaches. In addition, check out the NCAA website for student-athletes to get more detailed information about NCAA rules.

Remember, recruited student-athletes, though not guaranteed admission, have an extra variable in their favor in the application process. Athletics will assist you in the process only AFTER you have applied. However if you really want to reach that particular program, make a plan with your parents and coaches, be organized and be aggressive. The same characteristics that have made you an athletic success can lead to success in the recruitment process. The student is responsible for starting the process of becoming a recruited student-athlete; don’t rely on college coaches to lead you through this process

Choosing the Right College

Start with the list of colleges you are interested in for academics and athletic programs. Decide which factors are most important for you – cost, distance from family, housing, transportation options, etc., and chart out these factors for each college on your wishlist. And speak with the coaches, player contacts and academic counselors at you top choices to get a real opinion on daily life or issues to expect.

Excel in Athletics and Academics

Because intercollegiate athletics is part of the fabric of the university, student-athletes must be committed to academic achievement and the pursuit of a degree.

Stay Organized & Time Manage

Juggling academic, team, and social obligations will put a premium on your time. You cannot afford to lose valuable minutes or hours searching for a lost syllabus or trying to find last week’s lecture notes. Get organized before you head to college and keep it up! Invest in a planner or file cabinet to keep all of your notes in an organized fashion. And collect your professor and campus contact information into one file for easy access just in case you need to reach an instructor or the health clinic quickly.

One way to effectively manage your time is to plan ahead and know what is coming your way before it actually happens. In college, you may not have homework due every night. If you are not good about outlining due dates and spread out your work over time, your projects will creep up on you. Keep an online calendar (which you can sync right to your smartphone for reminders and alerts) with all due dates for each month throughout the semester. Include your daily practices and athletic events, class meetings, homework and exam dates and study time. If you can visually see what is coming each week throughout each month during a semester, you will be more likely to manage your time in an effective manner!

Use Your Team Skills in the Classroom

Many college athletes have unique schedules and commitments that other student do not have; you may even have classes with other student-athletes since you schedules are often the same. In this case, use each other as a support system and help each other study, stick to due dates and share notes. If you share notes, fill each other in on a missed lecture, and continuously support one another, you will save lots of time and frustration.

And when you study with other non-athlete students, uses your skills as a team player in class and study groups. You will be a face representing your school. Be a role model and lead your classmate: be on time to class, engage in discussion, lead study group (this may help to schedule around your practices) – not only will you become a model student but you will transcripts will thank you!

If you’re headed to college as a student-athlete, take the time to explore your options, plan carefully and set yourself on a path for success in academics and your athletic career.

Take the next step - Let's talk!

Remember to speak with your financial, legal or tax professional for more information about the topics which interest you. Here are a few ways for you to share your ideas, learn more and interact with FinancialSafetyNet members, authors and expert advisors.
Have a question, but don't want to share it with everyone? Contact a financial advisor.
Want to contribute to the conversation publicly? Submit a comment.

Submit A Comment

About Chuck Piecukonis

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.