College recruiting tips for High School Athletes and Parents.

For many high school athletes it is a dream to take their game to the next level and play in college. If your goal is to play a sport at the college level here are a few things you should know:


  • Become familiar with the NCAA Eligibility requirements. Here is a great site for both students and parents: be sure to register and set up a profile at the end of your junior year with the NCAA Eligibility Center.
  • Take challenging classes throughout high school.
  • Start the process early. College coaches start to recruit/contact players as early as sophomore year, so do not wait until your senior year to contact a coach if you have identified schools you would like to attend.
  • Look for summer camps at schools you may be interested in and pay attention to the coaches who will be there.
  • Prepare to market yourself. Develop a student profile that highlights your athletic and academic accomplishments that you can send to a coach at any time. Prepare highlight videos and post them to a running blog so you can pass along a link for a coach to take a look.
  • Do your homework on the team. Know how your stats stack up against the current players on team. Be realistic in your choices. Get an understanding of where you might fit in athletically by watching the team and say to yourself “can I play at that level”
  • Do not over or underestimate any school. Find out about each school and the philosophy of the athletic program. Do not get caught up with Division Status (D I, II, or III)
  • Plan an overnight to meet the team and learn more about the school. Being a student athlete is hard work, you have to manage your class time and practice time. Academics do come first! Realistically most student athletes do not make it to the professional level so it is vital that you are certain that the school you choose will be a good academic fit as well.
  • Ask questions of the coach. Topic including: coaching philosophy, roster make up, scholarship availability, academic requirements, off-season program, graduation rate of team members, how many days of classes does the team miss each season ( just to name a few).


Here are a few websites that I have used recently that have been helpful:

Lessons from 10 top College Admissions Reps

During the month of May I had the pleasure of meeting with admissions representatives from: Dartmouth, Northwestern, Princeton, U. Cal Berkeley, Vanderbilt, Rice, Cornell, Columbia, Brown, and U of Chicago.  There were a series of counselor breakfasts to review this year’s admissions season and to gain insight to next year’s class. Here is list of the lessons I learned:

–       90% of the schools listed had experienced a record high number of applicants this year.  In fact, they could have fielded another whole equally impressive freshmen class from the list of students that did not make the cut this round. Lesson:  There is no magic formula

–       The electronic application submission is widely accepted and it is easier for admissions representatives to review a student’s list of activities. Lesson: Do not waste time or energy on developing a fancy resume to submit along side the application. All the information a rep would need and want is included on the online application form and they can access it quickly and easily instead of trying to find information on a separate resume that could be formatted in one of a hundred different ways.

–       Letters of recommendations from the school counselor and teachers are a valuable piece to the process. Lesson: Students should make the time to get to know their school counselor during the four years of high school as the counselor’s insight to the whole student can really make a difference. Choosing the two teachers to write an academic recommendation is also critical. Do not choose teachers based solely on the fact you did really, really well in the class. Many recommendations from teachers in the class where a student worked extremely hard but may not have done as well can speak volumes. Submitting more recommendations from outside references does not always add to the file unless it is a truly unique view of the applicant.

–       Schools like students who like the school for the right reasons. Lesson: Each   school has unique programs and philosophies’ that separate them from others in their class, and reps look for applicants to show how they would fit in on their campus. This is usually accomplished within the primary essay and the often  required supplemental essay.   Demonstrated interest means a lot. Visiting campus, meeting college reps at college fairs or at their high school info sessions, subscribing to the colleges email list, asking good thoughtful questions via email, “Like”ing the schools social media can add up.

–       Each application received is read in its entirety. Lesson: All aspects of the application are reviewed and a rep can get a sense of a candidate that is too packaged. It is important to let a student’s true voice come through.

–       Each school is looking to bring in a well-rounded class each year. Lesson: When it comes to extracurricular activities applicants do not have to do it all. It is OK, even preferable for a student to one or two things extremely well instead of doing many things in an average fashion. So focus on what you have a passion for and let it shine.

–       Reps are looking at how a student uses their time away from school.  Lesson: Summer time is not necessarily your time. Using the time away from school during the summer to work, take a class, do an enrichment activity, or focus on a particular skill to build, shows motivation and commitment.

Sticker Shock

As families of juniors start to look at college options they often experience sticker shock when they realize the cost of higher education. Understanding the financial-aid process can be confusing and overwhelming. In fact, most students and parents may not even know where to start. As you contemplate the process, to get your feet wet, the National Association of College Admissions Counselors (NACAC) recommends using the following two resources:

␣ The U.S. Department of Education:

␣ NACAC’s Steps to College series on Financial Aid:


When looking at schools do not be put off by the initial sticker price as most college and universities will discount the price by using Federal or institutional aid. The issue becomes that you do not know how much of a discount you will receive until you have gone through the application process. Once a student has been accepted to a school they will receive a communication from the school’s Financial Aid office letting them know what aid (discount) they are eligible for.


Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a form that all students who would like to receive financial assistance must fill out to determine the dollar amount a student and their family can contribute toward the cost of education (Expected Family Contribution or EFC). The amount of aid the Federal Government and a school can provide is determined once the EFC is set. So for example if a family’s EFC is $10,000 per year it does not matter if the school cost $20,000 per year or $45,000 per year, the family can only be expected to pay it’s EFC. It will then be up to the Federal Government and the school to put together an aid package that can assist the student in filling in the difference with appropriate grants and loans.


All Federal grants and loans amounts are determined from the information provided on the FAFSA. The FAFSA is available to fill out starting on January 1 of the student’s senior year and all financial numbers are initially based on estimated tax filings for the pervious year. Nearly all colleges will also use this information to base the amount of aid they can provide as well. All families are strongly urged to fill out the FAFA even if they do not believe they will qualify for aid.


Many schools will require the form to be on file when awarding merit aid (money awarded based on a student’s academic record and has nothing to do with ability to pay). A few schools will also look for The CSS Profile (the financial aid application service of the College Board). The Profile gives schools supplemental financial information for them to make financial awards decisions. In addition students can also search for additional money from independent scholarship sources that offer awards to students based on various criteria. A good place to start to look for scholarships is . Fastweb is a free search database that will use a student’s unique profile to find scholarships they may be eligible to apply for.  Keep in mind some schools will ask if a student is receiving other scholarship money and reduce their aid package as a result.


In making a final decision students should consider the three F’s in the admissions process: Fit, Feel, and Finance. Find a school that is the academic right fit and feels right to you, and once all the numbers come in choose a school that financially makes sense.

Summer time is my time! Well not so fast….

You would think that working hard during the school year would be enough to make your college application shine and you deserve a couple of months off in the summer to yourself. To maximize the potential of getting into the college of your choice you should consider using the summer time to get a leg up on the process and help your application stand out from the pack. A few suggestions would be taking a Pre-College or specialized program on a college campus, finding a part-time job, volunteering, or an internship/job shadow in a career field that you have an interest in pursuing.

The idea of spending time taking a summer class may not be appealing when the sun is shinning and the temperature is above 80, but it can serve several purposes. By enrolling in a summer pre-college program you may be eligible to earn college credit that will be transferable to your future school. You will also be exposed to a college campus and get a taste of what it would be like as a college student. Special interest programs offered on a campus may not offer college credit but can help serve as away to find out if you truly like the subject matter and want to continue to purse it as a career. Many students have come back to me after taking a summer engineering exploratory program saying that they had no idea it would be that much work and are now seriously considering other majors.

A part-time job is another great way to show your commitment to working hard and have employability skills that are so necessary today. Volunteering consistently over the three summers prior to senior year establishes a pattern of commitment that shines through over the “flash in the pan” two-week volunteer experience in the summer before your senior year as a resume builder. Also by volunteering in the summer it frees up your time during the school year to do other worthwhile activities.

And finally, schools like to see students having some exposure to a career field that they indicate as a potential major so using the summer to participate in an internship or job shadow experience would be time well spent. Getting the inside scoop on some of the less glamorous tasks you may need to do on the job can be a great litmus test for you.

Summer is a great time to relax – just not too much.

5 things to do before the end of the Junior year.

With the school year rapidly coming to a close there are several things all Juniors should be doing to prepare to wrap up their year.


  1. Focus on Academics. Ask any college admissions counselor and they will tell you that the grades you get in your academic classes are the most important indicator of college success. So with a few weeks left of this school year it is imperative you finish strong.
  2. Plan your summer. If you have not already done so take a look at what you are doing this summer. Here are a few suggestions: plan to visits colleges, work, volunteer, take a summer class in an area of interest (taking introductory or enrichment classes that relate to a possible college major shows a commitment to the subject area and could separate your applications from others who have declared the same major)
  3. Ask teachers for recommendations. Teacher recommendations help the admission staff get a sense of how you conduct yourself in the classroom.  When choosing a teacher look for the ones who you have worked with and have built an academic relationship with. It is not enough to just find a teacher that likes you as a person but one that will talk to how you use your academic strength and how you overcome any weaknesses.
  4. 4.    Register for SAT or ACT. Taking standardized tests such as the SAT (6/2/12) and ACT (6/9/12) is another important piece to the admission puzzle. Although many more schools are putting less emphasis on them ( lists over 850 schools that are test optional), they are still important. It is suggested to take them at least twice but no more then 3 times.
  5. 5.    Meet with your school counselor. Your school counselor is a very important part of this process the more information they know about you and where you are in the process the more they can help.  If you do not have a list your school counselor can help put one together before you leave for the summer.



Extra points Sophomores and Freshmen:

*Keep in mind your high school classes will open the doors to college. Colleges make admissions decisions on your entire high school transcript, so make every class count.  Good grades in rigorous courses will go along way. Be sure your class schedule for next year will challenge you.

*Use your summer time wisely. The earlier you start to use your summers to add to your activity resume the better, as this will establish a pattern of behavior not just a flash in the pan activity to build a resume last minute.

It is not too early to start thinking about your college essay

The Common Application Association announced that the essay prompts on the 2012-13 Common Application will be identical to those found on the 2011-12 version.

You may find this list of prompts helpful as you begin to plan your essays.

SHORT ANSWER – (1000 character limit)

  • Please elaborate on one of your activities (extracurricular, personal activities, or work experience).

LONG ESSAY – (250 to 500 words)


Please write an essay on a topic of your choice or on one of the options listed below.

  • A) Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.
  • B) Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you.
  • C) Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.
  • D) Describe a character in fiction, a historical figure, or a creative work (as in art, music, science, etc.) that has had an influence on you, and explain that influence.
  • E) A range of academic interests, personal perspectives, and life experiences adds much to the educational mix. Given your personal background, describe an experience that illustrates what you would bring to the diversity of a college community, or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of diversity to you.
  • F) Topic of your choice.

Better to be safe then sorry.

For students and parents alike, campus safety should rank high on the list of things to consider when looking at a school. Keep in mind, a student will be spending approximately 15 hours a week in classes and the rest of the time in and around the campus. Colleges and Universities are required by law to report annually, the statistics of crimes that have taken place on a campus.  The office of admissions will have the statistics and will be happy to provide them if asked. Talk to current students while on the campus.  Ask students how they feel about walking from class to class, or back to their dorm at different hours of the day and night.  This is also a great way to get a feel for things. A couple of other good resources to find more information would be the US Department of Education ( as well as, each have a rich data base of information readily available.


A word of caution: statistics can be misleading, so be sure to use them as a guide. The way schools report incidents will differ from institution to institution. Some will  not report incidents that take place off campus even though students are involved. I would suggest looking at the campus and local newspapers of the city or town the school is located in to get a sense of what is happening as well.  A campus is like a small city or town, so expect to find some news reports on criminal activity. It is important to note the frequency and severity of the activity. There is no doubt that the vast majority of Colleges and Universities are safe and students will have a positive experience while attending. It is still important to do your homework to ensure your time on campus is a safe as it can be.

Applying to college just got a bit easier

Great news from the Common Application they just announced 37 new members bring the total to 490 schools. Here is the list:

Alma College
Anna Maria College
Blackburn College
Calvin College
College of St. Joseph
Concordia University Irvine
Dillard University
Elms College
Emory & Henry College
Grove City College
Hult International Business School
Keele University*
Keuka College
Lincoln University of Pennsylvania*
Lyon College
Manchester College
Marymount University
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts*
Mercer University
Molloy College
The Ohio State University*
Rhode Island School of Design
Richmond The American International University in London
Roanoke College
Rowan University*
Saint Joseph College CT
Simpson College
Soka University of America
St. Thomas University
Tennessee Wesleyan College
The University of Tennessee Knoxville*
University of Illinois at Chicago*
University of Stirling*
Virginia Intermont College
Warren Wilson College
Woodbury University
Yale NUS College*

* Public

Upcoming College Fairs

Sept 27, 2009, Phoenix Convention Center, Phoenix, AZ
Sept 29, 2009, Washington Convention Center, Washington, DC
Sept30 – Oct 1, 2009, Minneapolis Convention Center, Minneapolis, MN