Assessing academic importance when looking at college athletic programs.
We always tell families that the word college comes in front of the sport - college baseball, college softball, college basketball. The college should and does come first in most cases. However, as we know, a good portion of our athletes are primarily focused on their sport FIRST and will figure out the whole college major thing once they are at their future school. We have developed a 1-3 range when it comes to the athletic/school importance for the athlete. 1. This athlete has their sport completely drive their decision. They are going to college to play sports. Without sports, this player may or may not be attending college. If their only option to play college athletics is at a small school in the corner of Michigan, that is where they are going. The major and prestige of the college is not a major influence when they are looking at schools. The first five items in their value list all deal with the athletic program. Factors like playing time, winning, development, coaching and team culture supersede academics. 2. This athlete is going to play college sports, but they are also highly considering the school that they will be attending. The degree in which they will be seeking as well as the quality of education IS a major factor in their college decision. These athletes must be flexible on level as many 'higher' academic schools may be at the Division 1 level OR the Division 3 level. If academics are truly a driving force in the athletic/academic experience, then they must consider the evaluation of their skill set by their advisor. This number is the hardest to achieve, but ideally the most rewarding of the college sports experience. 3. This athlete is mainly driven by academics. The level of school or specific major is the most important factor they will be looking at when making a decision. They will look to get into the school they want first, then see if they can play sports there. This is usually the least successful path for players to compete in college athletics. In most programs, the player needs to be wanted and recruited by the college coach FIRST. Without that, most coaches are not interested in someone who got into school to start the process. This player is okay not playing college sports unless their academic requirements are met. There is a lot to consider when it comes to choosing a college. There is even more to consider when there is a sport involved. It is necessary for numbers 1 and 2 on this scale to generate interest from a college FIRST, then see if the school lines up academically. It becomes much harder the other way. If an athlete starts picking schools based on academics first, and then looks to play sports there - it becomes a nearly impossible task. That would push the player into category 3, which means it is highly unlikely they will be playing college sports. The college program has the upper hand when it comes to choosing an athlete for their program. They have so many athletes to choose from, that the recruit will most likely have to sacrifice some of their desires to play college athletics. When it comes to academics, MOST of the time the student CANNOT be so narrow in their focus and find their best college fit for sports. When it comes to academics, which number is your son or daughter? Once this is known, it may help clear a better path to find the right college program.
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