As the 2019-2020 college admissions season is coming to an end, I can now devote more time on professional development, attend conferences and webinars, and start doing some college visits. My first stop was Westfield High School in New Jersey, where a College Athletic Directors Panel was hosted by Collegewise on February 5, 2020. It was a very informative night, and I took lots of notes to share with you. I am reporting my summary in the Q/A format with the hope that you will have some of your questions answered here. Let’s start!
Athletic Directors in attendance included:
Amanda V. Demartino, Executive Director of Athletics, The College of New Jersey (Division III), NJ
David Roach, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, Fordham University (Division I), NY
Sherryta Freeman, Director of Athletics, Lafayette College (Division I), PA
- What does it take to play Division I?
Division I schools look for a combination of certain academic standards, the passion and drive to play at the highest level, as well as a great personality. Student-athletes who will compete at this level are expected to be respectful individuals who value teamwork and can remain calm at times of fierce competition during a game. At a Division I college, you are an athlete first, and then a student!
- What does it take to play Division III?
Division III schools give a lot of importance on academics, so student-athletes should first meet the admissions criteria if they would like to play sports at a Division III college. Other qualities Division III colleges look for in a student-athlete are involvement in community service, the ability to collaborate with others, and time management skills. Athletic ability is still an important factor although it is not as important as it would be at a Division I school. At a Division III college, you are a student first, and then an athlete!
If you would like to learn more about the athletic recruitment process, you can read my past blog post “The Unique Needs of the Student-Athlete”.
On Saturday, I attended the men’s basketball game between Princeton and Brown. The tigers won! Score: 73-54
- Does working with a recruiting service such as the NCSA (Next College Student Athlete) give athletes an advantage in the recruitment process?
Paying for such recruiting services would help you if you are really lost in the athletic recruitment process or if you have no help with the college admissions process. These services are especially great resources for first-generation students since they do not have much guidance at home. However, if you are stellar academically and athletically, you can go anywhere (think Ivy League, Stanford, or MIT)! If you are a great student but not a Division I athlete, you can still get into a wonderful school academically and play Division III sports. Keep in mind that athletic recruitment starts very early – as early as 8th and 9th grade! Bottom line: If you have what it takes to play Division I, the coach will find you!
- How can a student-athlete get noticed by coaches?
Coaches need to see you play in order to be able to notice you. College Athletic Directors tell coaches not to sign with anyone without seeing how they play. You have to make yourself seen! How do you do that? Simply by attending showcases and camps… Those are the places where coaches go and evaluate student-athletes. You have to be seen, and your grades have to be in order.
You need to take the initiative and reach out to coaches. They cannot find you unless you let them know you exist. Colleges like to see parents during the college visits, but they all want the experience to belong to students. Parents cannot and should not make the college decision for students. It should be the student’s decision because he/she is the one who will be spending the next 4 years there. The student is the one who is going to get injured and deal with it. The student needs to feel independent enough to be able to make the right decision for himself/herself.
The 2 most important decisions you make in life are:
- Where you go to school
- Who you marry
Parents! The college admissions process is a good time to start letting your kids make decisions for themselves! You need to guide them to ask important questions to decide on their future. You will not be there to answer those questions for them when they are in college.
- Are full athletic scholarships guaranteed?
Full athletic scholarships are not guaranteed and are available only for some sports (for example: football and basketball).
Division I schools offer athletic scholarships at the following 3 levels:
Level I: full/maximum number of athletic scholarships
Level II: some athletic scholarships
Level III: no athletic scholarships
Division III schools, on the other hand, offer no athletic scholarships, but they do offer merit-based and need-based financial aid.
Ivy League schools do not offer any athletic scholarships or merit-based aid. They only offer need-based aid, which means they will compensate for the gap that exists between what you can pay and what the school is asking for.
Overall, the common (mis)belief that exists among parents on the availability of full athletic scholarships is a myth! If you would like to read more on this topic, take a look at my past blog post “Debunking 5 Myths about Athletic Recruitment and Athletic Scholarships”.
- Is the athletic recruitment process transparent enough?
No, it is not. Colleges do not share their secrets intentionally so that their competition will not steal them. However, they are very open to questions. They want you to ask questions.
Ask the coach:
- Am I getting in?
- Am I on your list?
- Am I getting a scholarship?
- How much am I getting?
Being right up-front with the coach will eliminate any false expectations or misunderstandings. More often than not, you will (unfortunately) be an extra or safety on the coach’s list. He will be contacting and interviewing many other qualified student-athletes like you. You might be thinking the recruitment process is going extremely well for you and might be confident that you will get that scholarship only to be stood up. Do not hesitate to ask direct questions. Although the athletic recruitment process is not transparent at all, coaches will usually give you honest answers. Utilize your network. Talk to alumni of the college you want to go to. Reach out to your high school and/or club coach, who will provide valuable support and feedback to you.
- My son is in middle school. I cannot decide which sport he should play: Lacrosse or baseball? Which one should he choose?
Which one does he like? Honestly! This is a question only your son can answer based on his natural fit, passion, and talent. Let him decide for himself…
- Is the use of Social Media a good way of showcasing a student’s athletic skills?
To evaluate athletic skills, colleges look at the video rather than the student-athlete’s athletic skills on Instagram. However, to be able to evaluate a student’s personality and character, they definitely go through his/her Instagram and other social media accounts, so present yourself in the best possible way out there! If you would like to read more on using social media wisely, you can read my past blog post “Social Media and College Applications: Yay or Nay?”.
- My son is a soccer player. Which summer camps or showcases would you recommend for him?
Where does he want to go to college? If he has a dream school he wants to attend, he should start attending the summer camp there. As for showcases, it does not matter which showcase he attends as much as it matters that he emails and invites coaches of interest to that showcase.
- Can you give one piece of final advice to student-athletes?
Throughout the athletic recruiting process, you will get lots of emails from coaches. Those emails are for marketing purposes only. Ignore them! The serious ones will call and reach out to your high school coach. If you are really being recruited, you will hear a lot from the coach. Never forget: If you are a very good athlete, you can get into any college. If you are a good student and a good athlete, you can get into a school you would not be able to get into. Pick a college where you will thrive not only athletically but also academically. At the end of the day, it is all about academics. If you cannot play sports anymore one day, will you be in the right place?
If you have any questions, do not hesitate to reach out to me or to any of the aforementioned Athletic Directors who attended the Panel.
Have a wonderful week!
Burcak Deniz Cakir
Founder and President | EdMission Possible
Burcak Deniz Cakir has a B.A. in Foreign Language Education, an M.A. in English Language Teaching, and an M.B.A., all of which have laid the solid foundation for her professional experiences as an educator. She has completed the College Counseling Program at UCLA, which is known to be the most prestigious certificate program in the profession. She has previously taught English as a Foreign/Second Language (EFL/ESL) in Turkey and in the U.S. at Virginia Tech, Harcum College, Rutgers University (Newark and New Brunswick Campuses), and Pace University. Having taught EFL/ESL at the college level for over 20 years, Burcak can communicate effectively with college-age students from different countries. She is bilingual in Turkish and English. Her extensive experience with international students from many countries including but not limited to Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Korea, and China has given her the opportunity to understand their unique problems that domestic students may not be facing throughout the college admissions process, such as but not limited to extra testing requirements (TOEFL, IELTS), the translation of high school transcripts and recommendation letters, different financial forms and statements required, visa issues, being homesick, culture shock, etc.
Burcak is an Associate Member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) and a Voting Member of the International Association for College Admission Counseling (IACAC). She currently lives in Edison, New Jersey with her husband, two daughters, and her four-legged son. In her free time, she can be found spending time with her family, reading (lots!) about college admissions and college essays, watching her favorite movies, getting lost in design magazines, and decorating her house.