When a college coaches recruits you as an athlete, they recruit everything about you. That includes your skills on the athletic field, your attitude, work ethic, and abilities in the classroom. Many do not realize how important academics are in the recruiting process so I think this article is vital for those starting the recruiting process.
Obviously I need to make a quick note first. No major college program is going to offer a scholarship to an athlete just because he or she has good grades. Those grades are important but this article is specifically about an athlete who is of the scholarship level. It is the combination of athletics and academics that a college coach wants. Not one or the other, they want both.
The biggest reason I feel that grades are vital to anyone, athletes or just regular students, is that no matter where you go, it should help you pay less when going to school. There are so many scholarship and grants that are opened with good grades at schools that there is no reason you should not try extremely hard in school. It is tough for a 17-year old to realize that the grade he gets in his Math class will effect how much his student loan payment is at age 25. At the time, it is very unimportant but does come back to haunt you when all is said and done.
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Putting fourth a little effort in the classroom is not easy, it is very beneficial to the recruiting process. While coaches do have to take chances on athletes with poor academics, they love to have the 3.8 students who work hard on the court and in the classroom. These are the type of players that these coaches love because they are the ones that they don’t have to stay up late at night worrying about.
There are two examples of how academics can help you fulfill your dreams of playing college athletics. The first, at the Division II level, allows an athlete to get a full scholarship based half on academics and the other half on athletics. So if the school were to cost $20,000 a year, $10,000 would be paid by athletics and the other $10,000 would be pay by academics. If you were looking at the same school and were not strong academically, paying $40,000 over the course of your college career ($10,000 per year for four years) may not be an option. So you may have to cross this school off because you struggled in the classroom during your high school career.
At the Division I level, if you have very strong academics, you may be eligible for Presidential Scholarships and other means that will help open the door to play at that high of a level. While you could still be considered a walk on (Basketball and football Division I schools have to offer full rides or nothing), getting to live your dream and play at that high of a level can be achieved with strong academics.
There is a little more advice about this as well. I would recommend starting strong early in your high school career. Many athletes have been non-qualifiers because they did poorly in school before their junior year and it cost them a chance to receive any scholarship offers. These athletes would then try to work hard in the last two seasons but it is extremely difficult to work yourself out of too big of a hole. College coaches love to have student athletes with great GPAs because it helps with the team GPA (Which is averaged) and graduation rates. That type of thing may not seem important but it could help your coach keep his job.
Also, if I could do it all over again, I would take you ACT/SAT test as many times as possible. I know it costs money and it is a waste of a Saturday morning, but it will be well worth it if you improve your score. That can help open doors to new colleges as well as helping you find more scholarship money. There is no reason not to take this as many times as you can.