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Preparing for College: Exercising Your Options: Tips for Student-Athletes (page 3)

By — National Association for College Admission Counseling
Updated on Mar 13, 2009

Playing by the Rules

If you're looking at Division 1 or 2 colleges, make sure that you fulfill all of the NCAA 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.

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, preferably in your junior year. Then, you'll have some time to schedule any courses you may need to fulfill eligibility requirements.

The NCAA also has strict rules for recruitment practices for Division 1 and 2 programs. Most of these rules apply to the college, but they affect students, as well. It's in your best interest to find out what rules apply to you.

If you're not sure about NCAA rules--and they can be a bit complicated--talk with your guidance counselor. In addition, check out the NCAA Web site for student-athletes for more detailed information about NCAA rules.

Studying the Playbook

It's easy to get caught up in "making it" to a high-profile team, but remember that you must live with your decision. Especially for Division 1 and 2 athletes, beware of being dazzled by recruiters or by the athletic program's reputation. Study each college's program for yourself: ask coaches, players and athletic directors the hard questions.

"Coaches have a relatively high turnover rate, so picking a college based on the coach can be dicey," says Jones. "It's better to pick the college based on its general educational philosophy: is it turning out pro athletes or accountants or chemists? What if I need to miss practice to complete a lab? Are the athletic mission and academic mission linked?"

Other good questions to ask:

  • How much time will the sport take--in season and out of season?
  • What percentage of athletes graduate, and how long does it take them to graduate?
  • Where do academics fit in, from the point of view of the coach?
  • Will you be free to major in any subject you wish?
  • Will you be able to get extra academic support during the season if you miss classes to travel with the team?
  • If you receive an athletic scholarship, will the scholarship continue if you get hurt and cannot play?

The answers to these and other questions can give you a better idea of how the athletic program at each college works--and where you might fit in.

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