If you have a student who excels at a sport, that passion could make paying for college a lot easier. Sports scholarships are available for many major sports, and even some less popular ones (for instance, women's golf).
First, remember that sports aren't everything, and your child needs to do well in school, too. "Parents and students should keep some considerations in mind. First and foremost, a high school child's academics must be considered first. Involvement in several sports should not cause overload, especially when two sports overlap," says Chris Krause, author of Athletes Wanted and founder of the National Collegiate Scouting Association.
That said, multi-sport players are more attractive to recruiters. "College coaches also want to get the most bang for their buck. An athlete who brings skills, techniques and that 'extra edge' of playing two or more sports is always going to win out over a single-sport athlete costing the same amount of scholarship dollars but with less diverse skills," says Krause.
Want to give your kids the best shot at a scholarship? Krause shared these tips:
Don't be a "helicopter mom" or "we dad." Many parents hover over the child, not allowing him to act for herself. "We parents" live vicariously through the child's accomplishments. The student athlete should be the one communicating with college coaches. Coaches are impressed by students who initiate conversations and are confident enough to make lasting first impressions.
Teach humility. Parents are primarily responsible for their children's attitudes, and parents who expect more of their children are easily noticed due to their extreme work ethic and ability to go the extra mile. Remember the ACE formula to teach students to be accountable for their Academics, Character and Effort.
Be your child's assistant and mentor, not just her cheerleader. The parent's primary role is to help not just offer encouragement and approval. Role-play with the student athlete: Have him practice leaving voicemails for college coaches, and ask him questions that the coach may ask.
Create a specific plan and follow it. Start the recruitment process early, and help your child stick to a timeline of academics, athletic accomplishments and a Recruitment Action Plan (which can be found at www.athleteswanted.org).
Be realistic and get an honest evaluation of your student athlete. All parents are partial to their own children, of course, so you should find objective statistics about your child's performance from coaches or outside sources. Also, be realistic about the financial side of college and set parameters of what educational costs you can afford as a family.
Know their Expected Family Contribution. Know how much you can contribute to the education and how to adjust and allocate assets to best leverage their financial situation.
The greater the distance, the greater the opportunities. Avoid fixating on one school or only considering colleges close to home. Student athletes positioned for success can evaluate all options without restrictions on geography.
Don't risk your child's collegiate future by relying solely on the coach. Assisting your child in getting a scholarship and getting recruited is your job, not that of her high school coach. The average high school coach has personal contact with fewer than five college coaches -- 90 percent of whom are local -- so you must be the aid establishing relationships with coaches.
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