Interested in pursuing a college athletic scholarship for your talented athlete? I’ve put together my five top tips about college athletic recruitment, while still fresh from our son accepting a NCAA Division 1 basketball scholarship. There are no guarantees but hopefully this will help in some way; parent to parent. Interestingly, my top tips are not actually about playing sport.
1. Eyes wide open
Go into this with your eyes wide open and research the stats. This journey is not for the faint-hearted! Arm yourself with knowledge. Here’s some information to digest before you decide to begin this long and involved process:
In the USA, it’s just 1-2% of boys and 2-3% of girls playing high school sport who ever receive a D1 scholarship, across all sports. A full Division 1 basketball scholarship is the toughest college athletic scholarships to receive, with less than one third of 1% of high school players achieving this in the USA. And negligible numbers in Australia.
If you are also interested in Division 2 or Division 3 athletic scholarships, the stats improve somewhat. It’s around 7% across all 3 divisions.
It’s highly competitive so take a minute to think of how many kids you know playing elite sport and how many have received full Division 1 scholarships, then you’ll get the picture. But, it is not impossible!
2. A big commitment
Who wants this most – you or your child? It should, of course, be your child!
However, as a parent, you will need to support their recruitment process over several years. For example, joining them on college calls, speaking to coaches and coaching staff, talking to teachers, emailing transcripts, filming then collating and sending footage, watching college games, helping liaise between two school systems, booking SAT exams, etc.
We said we were totally happy to do all the “behind-the-scenes” support as long as our child did everything they could – ie. training, playing, studying – on and off the court. And, if they ever backed off, then so would we.
It is important to check in regularly with your child to see if they ever change their mind and ask whether they want to do something different instead. Let them know that’s perfectly ok too!
3. The right fit
Finding the “right fit” was the most common piece of advice we received from people who had played sport in College and it’s so incredibly important! If I had to give only one piece of advice, this would be it. Your child needs to fit in where they go – therefore, the opportunity needs to match your child as they are spending 4 years of their life there, not you. Do not take an offer because it’s an offer – take one that best suits your child. How do you determine what that right fit is? See “wish list” below…
4. Make a wish list
At the very start of this process, sit down and write a list detailing a few things that are most important to you and/or your child about the College they may attend. Items might include things like location, conference, division, playing time, coaching staff, stability, coaching style, climate, academics, team mates, school size, other international recruits, etc.
When you are making your final decision, go back to this list and let it guide you. It may have adjusted over time as you learnt more and priorities shifted. So, how many boxes on your wish list do your options tick? Ultimately, this checklist made our final decision easier in the end.
5. Character matters
Finally, you don’t just need to be a great athlete; you also need to be a great person. Be courteous to all coaches that show interest. Return messages and phone calls. Your child’s character matters and their grades are very important too. Even if they’re 6’10”, their grades matter. Not only does it indicate what type of character they are off the court, the higher their GPA, the more doors that open and stay open.
I’ve always said that if it takes a village to raise a child, then it takes several villages to raise an athlete. And this statement has never been truer than when it came to college recruitment. We are forever grateful to all the “villages” that have supported our family during this process.