Why Teens Turn Down Sports Scholarships?

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What would you do if your teen turned down a sports scholarship?  Last week, it was national signing day, a day of great pride for many high school athletes when they officially accept sports scholarships from colleges. Over the last 5 years of working with upper middle class families, I have spoken with some bewildered parents of high school junior and senior athletes whose teen with lots of athletic potential has made the decision not to play sports in college at the varsity level. I know the conversation firsthand, since my son made the decision not to pursue playing in college during his junior year of high school. Why? The following are major reasons:

Lack of Passion for the Sport

For various reasons, they just don’t have a desire to play the sport in college even though many continue to have successful high school careers.  Some students will experience burnout from having played the sport nonstop since 6th grade. Some will become disillusioned with the politics involved in the game such as disputes over playing time or coaching staff changes.  Still, others may have been plagued by injuries. These issues only intensify at the collegiate level.

Time Commitment in College

Playing sports at the varsity level requires a big time commitment. A NCAA survey showed that athletes spent 39 hours a week on academics and 33 hours a week on sports. Playing sports takes sacrifice. Many students are unable to work, even at critical summer internships, because of the time commitment. Some students even change their college major because they are unable to be successful at demanding majors like engineering or pre-medicine.

Athletic Scholarships Don’t Cover Everything

First of all, according to the NCAA only 2% of high school athletes will be offered an athletic scholarship. This includes “full-ride” and partial scholarships. Furthermore, there are always personal expenses that even “full-ride” scholarships do not cover.

Only time will tell if your son or daughter will have the opportunity and desire to be a student athlete in college. Being a student athlete in college can be a very rewarding once in a lifetime experience. However for high school athletes, the main focus needs to be on the academics. Many student athletes have options taken away due to not being academically prepared.  Sports can teach students many life lessons, but families need to be realistic and make informed decisions.

Miriam Phillips-Gill is the founder of Pathways 4 Teens. Pathways 4 Teens helps teens define success through teen leadership and parent engagement. Contact Miriam at miriam@pathways4teens.com or 602-999-3892. Visit http://www.pathways4teens.com to register for an event! Also follow us on facebook and twitter for more great information!

Electives Get You In!

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Students in my area have begun to register for classes for next school year. A question that I often get asked is “What gets you into elite colleges?”.  The most common misconception that I see from students is forgoing electives like band, drama, choir or giving up sports in order to take an extra Advanced Placement or Honors class that they are not necessarily interested in other than the fact that it will boost their GPA. While colleges want to see a challenging schedule,  you should also have a schedule that reflects who you are and where your interests are.

At my alma mater of Stanford, we would say, “work hard, play hard!” Elective classes that you take during the school day and activities that you choose to do outside of school are what will make you stand out on a college application. Of course, strong academics and test scores are expected because the college wants to make sure that you can do the work when you get there.

Yes, your high school and some colleges have specific classes that you must take. However, the things you elect to do outside of the requirements represent who you are. Your elective activities represent the richness and talent that you will add to a college campus. Your high school transcript should represent that you have explored different things and been exposed to different fields so that you can begin to identify what you like and, equally important, what you don’t like. More importantly, electives are fun and help you reduce stress so that you can do well in your academic core classes. Pick Advanced Placement classes wisely, in those subjects that you are truly interested in. Don’t take a class in high school that you would not take in college!

Pathways 4 Teens helps families make educational choices through teen leadership and parent engagement. Contact Miriam at miriam@pathways4teens.com or 602-999-3892 or Visit www.pathways4teens.com for more details! Also follow us on facebook and twitter for more great information and tips on helping teens define success for themselves! 

Why My Teens Got Gifts From Santa?

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On Monday my son went back to college after being home for the holidays, so now I’m back to a normal routine. As I reflect back on the last few weeks, I think it will be remembered for years to come as a truly special holiday in which we relaxed and spent lots of time together. One event I will remember is when my teens awoke to see special gifts from Santa in front of our Christmas tree.

Yes, we sat our teens down years ago and told them that Santa doesn’t physically exist. However, I told them that the spirit of Santa is alive and well. Santa represents the spirit of giving to others. Each Christmas we take the time to give back to others. When our teens were younger, they actively participated in choosing gifts for families off of tags at the Christmas giving tree from their school or the mall. We also actively gave to food drives. This year, we continued the tradition and spent a Saturday morning packing food at the food bank.

Santa also represents hopes and dreams. It’s important, no matter how old you get, to always dream and have faith that those dreams can come true. Now that our children are older, their Santa gifts have a deeper meaning than when they were younger. My oldest son, who is in his twenties, has graduated from college and does cancer research. He received a cross necklace with the inscription of the Lord’s Prayer. It is the ultimate symbol of faith and courage which is often needed when you’re out on your own. My son, who is in college, received a watch. A lasting reminder that one of the keys to success in college is the ability to manage your time. My daughter who is in high school received special earrings with her birthstone. A reminder of how special she is during a time in life when we often question how good we are compared to other people.

What was truly special about these Santa gifts was that my husband and I picked them out together. The task of picking Santa gifts has often been something that I do on my own. However, the holiday was truly special and I feel very fortunate to have had the time together. I know that one day my children may have families of their own and that they will be the ones giving gifts from Santa.

Pathways 4 Teens helps families make educational choices through student leadership and parent engagement. Contact Miriam at miriam@pathways4teens.com or 602-999-3892 or Visit www.pathways4teens.com for more details! Also follow us on facebook and twitter for more great information and tips on helping teens define success for themselve! 

3 Things Every Parent Should Know About Finding the Best Fit College

BookStackMy husband and I graduated from Stanford University so our children have been asked all of their lives, “Do you want to go to Stanford?”. I realized when going through the college application process with my first son that while I loved my years at Stanford and would be thrilled if my children went there, what I really wanted for my children was a college experience that they loved. I wanted the best fit college for them.

After helping students navigate the college application process for the last four years, I have determined the following:

3 Things That Every Parent Should Know About Finding the Best Fit College

1. Fit the College to the Child (Not the Child to the College)

In addition to meeting academic requirements, it is important for students to begin to know who they are. Their selection of electives and extracurricular activities should expose them to different experiences.They need to discover their strengths and weaknesses (even straight A students aren’t perfect) as well as their likes and dislikes (parents can’t decide this for them) to be prepared to make decisions about major selection and career path. Lack of focus is a major reason students drop out of college or extend beyond 4 years which can waste both time and money.

2. School Counselors do not do Individualized Research of Colleges

While school counselors may give suggestions, it is the student’s responsibility to do detailed research of the college to see if the college meets all of their needs. In many states (especially here in Arizona where the average ratio is 1 counselor to every 750 students), individualized support is very limited. Furthermore, there are thousands of colleges to choose from and there is no way that a counselor can have direct experience with each of them.

3. Students Need Assistance with College Research

Students have several computerized tools that can assist in the college application process but they lack perspective that comes from experience. Furthermore, they can use emotional support. While students need to take a leadership role, parents and other trusted sources can provide input and review information to ensure that informed decisions are made.

Did you find this helpful? Have you been through the college search process with your child? Let me know your thoughts by commenting. You can also go to facebook or twitter to like and share this information with friends.

Pathways 4 Teens offers services to help students determine the Best Fit College and for parents to help guide students in the process. Contact Miriam at miriam@pathways4teens.com or 602-999-3892 or Visit www.pathways4teens.com for more details! Also follow us on facebook and twitter for more great information and tips on the college application process! 

Aargh!

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Aargh! is a word I learned when watching Charlie Brown cartoons as a child. It is a word that encompasses the meaning of intense stress and frustration. It is a word that summarizes what I have endured over the past year as I went through the college application process with my son.

The intense stress of the last year was somewhat unexpected given that I have been through the college application with my oldest son and I actually assist teens with the application process for a living. However, this child is different. He is my middle child. This child is the one who has always approached life with intensity. He has always tried to live life on his own terms. This child is the one who hasn’t had the greatest outcomes all of the time. He is my child who forgot how to read between 1st and 2nd grade because he didn’t practice his reading enough. Despite my best efforts — he found it much more interesting to go outside to play or to build complicated structures with legos. He’s the child that had intense curiosity, who would like to explore on his own, to the point where he got lost on a trip to Disneyland. He’s the child who didn’t get credit for homework that he completed and forgot to turn in. In all cases, he eventually learned not by doing what he was told to do but by having natural consequences occur.

My stress over the college application process has occurred because this time the stakes are high and the consequences can truly impact the rest of his life. Given his missteps of the past, I have been holding on a little tighter.  I have been having a problem letting go and letting natural consequences occur. However, I have had to summon the courage and strength to do so.  After much contemplation and prayer for patience, I have had to let go. Of course, I haven’t left him fully on his own. I have made sure he is well informed on all of his options and have gone over the decision making process with him. But in the end, all final decisions have been his.

He has always had a different way of approaching things and somehow coming out okay in the end. I have not always agreed with his decisions and he sometimes has a different set of priorities than me. Yet I try to remember, he is also the child who amazed his math teachers by taking a totally different approach to problems and coming up with the right answer in the end. I have to step back and let him make his own mistakes and have faith that in the end everything will come out all right just as it has before.

Pathways 4 Teens offers services to help students determine the Right Fit College and for parents to help guide students in the process. Visit http://www.pathways4teens.com for more details! Also follow us on facebook and twitter for more great information and tips on the college application process! 

Dream College

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Well the waiting continues for some senior high school students, including my son. Many of the top private colleges are sending their acceptance letters out over the next week or so. My son applied to his dream school of Stanford University which also happens to be the Alma Mater of my husband and I. Stanford will have a 5.5% acceptance rate this year. It gets more competitive every year but you never know if you will get in, if you don’t apply.

I am concerned by how many students I talk to who don’t have a dream college that they apply to. They are concerned about how much the college costs to attend or worse than that, they don’t think that they are good enough because they don’t have a 5.0 GPA and perfect SAT scores. In both cases, you really don’t know the answer to these questions until after you apply. Many students make wrong assumptions. Let’s take these topics one at a time.

Of course everyone should be concerned about the cost of college, it is a big deal. The problem is that you never know the true cost of what it is going to cost you to attend until you apply, get accepted, get financial aid offers from schools, and any outside scholarship offers. Most college websites now have a net price calculator that gives a more realistic idea of overall costs including tuition, room and board, and internal scholarships. However, remember it doesn’t take everything into account and your cost may be even lower. Once again, you never know the true cost until after you apply.

The topic I have a bigger concern with is student’s who think that they are not good enough. You need to understand that many of the major private universities are looking for overall diversity in culture, thought, interests, etc. Many students with high GPA and test scores will not get accepted. College websites  list average test scores of accepted students. Hence, many students that were accepted have scores that are below the average for that school. Colleges are looking at your overall academic preparedness. Can you come to their school and complete the coursework successfully? They understand that students are human and are sometimes going to fumble. Perhaps as a Freshman, you got a “C” in a class that you didn’t have interest in or that was a lower level class that you went on to excel in at upper levels. In fact, figuring out what you don’t like to do can be just as important as discovering interests that you do have and recovery from failures is a good thing. It can prove that you are resilient.

So I encourage students to dream and parents to encourage your students to dream. A dream college should not be chosen based on rankings or where parents went. It should be based on a student’s interests and what they think the ideal academic, social, and physical environment is.

Pathways 4 Teens offers services to help students determine the Right Fit College and for parents to help guide students in the process. Visit http://www.pathways4teens.com for more details! Also follow us on facebook and twitter for more great information and tips on how to empower students to be successful in high school, college, and beyond!

Choosing the Right College Starts in Middle School/Junior High

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The New Year is the perfect time to set resolutions or goals for the upcoming year. In fact, it is a critical goal setting and transition time for teens choosing classes or a college for next school year. There is a study that shows overall only 30% of college students are satisfied with the college that they go to. As seniors begin to get acceptance letters and continue applying for colleges, it is important to take the time out to do research to determine whether the college you choose to attend is a good fit for you.

A good fit isn’t the college that has the highest ranking or the college that gives you the most scholarships. A good fit college provides the support systems that you need to be successful. Hence, the best way to determine if a college is a good fit, is to start with yourself.  Know your strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, while at the same time being open to change and the exploration of new possibilities.

Only by trying new things do we know what we like. Likes and dislikes are a subjective thing that only students themselves can determine. In our era of specialization, with club sports where students play the same sport year-round and specialty high school programs that put students on a bio medical or engineering track of coursework, it is important to allow our students to explore and discover the whole of who they are. This process starts well before senior year in high school. Beginning with puberty, especially in middle school/junior high, it’s important for parents to give students the tools to discover their own uniqueness and start directing their own future