By Tim Martin | May 18, 2023, at 10:00 a.m.
Many high school students desire to continue their competitive athletic careers with a college team. It is important to realize that this dream can only be attained by a select few through their combination of dedication, skills, and academics.
No matter what sport you play, many outstanding students are fighting for a limited number of spots on college rosters, so you will need to stand out from the crowd in various ways.
College coaches indeed want athletes that will contribute to the team, while admissions committees admit students that can be successful in the classroom while being active in the college community. So, what are some ways to build your profile as the total package?
Athletics and Academics
First, each student must determine the ideal collegiate match for their education goals. Since the knowledge you acquire off the field will serve as the basis for your future career and lifestyle choices.
It does not benefit any student to attend a college to play on a team if the school does not offer a high-quality program in the student’s intended major.
If you only want big-time Division I schools, you may need to be prepared for larger classes and be patient on the bench for a year or two. If you feel a smaller Division II school would be a better fit for your learning and social styles, you might find an immediate opportunity to earn a starting spot on the team’s roster.
So, after considering these initial questions, how should you prepare to make the leap to collegiate athletics and be an attractive candidate to coaches and colleges?
Student-Athletes Show Dedication
Getting to the highest level of a skill requires a consistent dedication to physical and mental training to prepare for peak performance in competition.
This commitment of time and energy has a cost; as mentioned, student-athletes must be outstanding time managers to maintain a balance between sports, school, and life.
If a student only focuses on sports, this will lessen their attractiveness to coaches and colleges later.
Physical attributes also play a factor, as I doubt a 5-foot basketball player would become a starting center for a college basketball team, but it does not imply they cannot develop skills to become a point guard.
A consistent practice routine that improves your physical strength, hones your sport-specific talents, and boosts your confidence is essential if you want to stand out to coaches.
The NCAA Eligibility Center posts minimal requirements for eligibility for Division I and Division II athletics. Remember that they are the bare minimum and should not be considered a goal.
Athletes lose their eligibility status if they do not maintain passing grades in college. Instead, students should push themselves with quality courses while still in high school.
Students should challenge themselves with quality courses, achieve strong grades, and build habits that ensure academic success in college. If you do not receive an offer to play for a team at the school you want to attend, you may still be accepted based on your admissions profile and try to become a walk-on later.
Balancing academics, athletics, and life outside of school while in high school will provide the foundation for success in college, both on and off the field.
Life of a Student-Athlete
Another truth is that as a collegiate athlete, you will not be a normal student. Thus time management and personal discipline are important. When your friends want to go out on a Friday night, you might have to stay behind and study since you have a weekend travel game.
Finding the proper balance is the key to filling your college years with new experiences, people, and relationships. Keep in mind that you should not let your attempts at having a life outside your sport be drowned out by the sport itself.
The total package for a prospective college does not have a standard formula for academic grades, athletic ability, or extracurricular involvement since each student has a unique combination.
Demonstrating a combination of each will increase your chances of being accepted into the college of your dreams. Hopefully, you will receive a chance to represent the college as a team member in your chosen sport.