Do you hope that your child is going to win an athletic scholarship?
I run into a lot of people lately who hope/expect their children to pay for college with their athletic prowess. Some of these jocks, by the way, are in grade school! I’m not kidding.
Even my own sister, whose daughter is 10, has fallen prey to the belief that a soccer scholarship is in her future. And frankly she should know better.
The chances are miniscule, however, that my niece or any other child will someday win an athletic scholarship. About 2% of high school seniors win sports scholarships every year at NCAA institutions. The average scholarship, by the way, is less than $11,000.
Being an athlete, however, can boost a teenager’s admission chances because all schools, regardless of whether they offer scholarships, desire strong sports programs. Your child doesn’t have to be a superstar athlete to increase his or her chances of admission. And your child doesn’t need to capture a sports scholarship to ultimately make your college tab more affordable.
Athletic Scholarship Realities
In reality, athletic scholarships are often not as generous as regular financial aid or merit scholarships that jocks can earn for their academics and other talents. Striking it big with an athletic scholarship, however, resonates with parents whether their children are still in grade school or well into their high school years.
If sports scholarships sound appealing, here is something to keep in mind: Families often end up shopping for athletic scholarships rather than for schools that represent good academic fit. If you are a gifted athlete or the parent of one, I’d recommend that you first identify schools that would be a match academically and then inquire about the sports. Getting a college education is infinitely more important than playing a sports. And remember, the money you receive for academic accomplishments is often more than a sports scholarship.
Athleticism won’t make up for poor grades
What’s tragic about the focus on sports scholarships is that is encourages students to spend more time on their sport than their grades. Kris Hinz, an independent college counselor, once shared with me her experience with high school athletes that nicely sums up the problem. Here is her observation:
In my practice, parents often apologize about their kid’s grades, then quickly say, “But he’s a great athlete and we’re hoping hat can be his ace in the hole.” They are hoping that his athletic prowess will get him accepted and get him money! A tall order! They are usually wrong on both counts. And the worst part is, all the time that has been devoted to sports has siphoned off time that could have been spend studying to earn a strong GPA.
Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of the newly released second edition of The College Solution: A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right Price.