Applying College Well: The Student Athlete (page 2)

By — John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Start Early and Be Informed

If you are a strong athlete interested in playing in college, you should talk to your high school or club coach about your level of ability early in your junior year. At the early stages, the emphasis is on your personal and academic growth, not your three-point shot, but it is good to be realistic. Begin your college search early so that you can identify colleges that both meet your academic and social needs and can offer the opportunity to play your sport at the right level for you. Contact college coaches, providing a short athletic and academic resume, by the end of your junior year if you are not contacted first. And be sure to register with the NCAA Clearing House at www by the end of your junior year to ensure your eligibility if you plan to play in Division I or Division II.

Dealing with college coaches in the fall of your senior year is flattering but nerve-racking. A coach may call and write every week, insisting that you’re the 6' 2" center she needs for her basketball team . . . but you don’t know how many other 6' 2" centers she has on her call list as well, and she only needs one for next year. If youdelay, and another of those players commits, your phone will go stone cold, and you’ll never even know what happened.  - College freshman heavily recruited to play women’s basketball

The NCAA Web site provides a wealth of information about athletic recruiting. You and your parents should read it carefully so that you will know what to expect and what is expected of you. If a college coach will only guarantee you a place if you agree to apply early decision, consider the implications. Accept the offer if you know you want to attend that school and will be happy there. Do you want your whole choice of college to revolve around sports? If not, placement on the coach’s list is no bargain. A strong athlete who is not recruited may be able to play as a “walk-on” to the team after being admitted via the regular admissions process. The point is to be in control of your own decisions as much as possible.

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