Why Teens Turn Down Sports Scholarships?

NoSports

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!

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Common Mistake Middle Class Families Make is Not Applying For Financial Aid

PayForCollege

A few weeks ago my son who is a senior in high school came home and told me that he was asked by a counselor at his school whether he needed to apply for scholarships to attend college. Even though I have discussed with him the need to apply for scholarships, I was shocked by his sincere questioning of me as to whether he needed to do so. I have been very upfront with each of my children upon entering high school  that they are going to need to contribute to their college education. It is a conversation I urge each family to have with their high school student no matter what your financial circumstances. Many times there is a disconnect between what parents are willing or able to pay and what students think their parents will pay.

We don’t have that big college fund set aside capable of sending each our children to colleges with the price tags of  $50,000 per year per student once you take all expenses into account. In the past 15 years.we have started two businesses, had a downturn in the economy, been raising teenagers, sending our first child through college, and been saving for retirement. That has severely affected our capacity to set aside enough funds. Even if we did have the funds, I think it is important for students to take some personal responsibility for their college education and contribute.

I encourage all middle class families to apply for financial aid and not base the colleges that students apply to on the initial sticker price. There are scholarships available that are not based on financial need. Scholarships can be based on strong academics, community service, sports participation, area of study, etc. Why should you pay money for college that you don’t have to?  Furthermore, financial need is viewed differently by each college, especially private colleges. Things other than your income such as multiple students attending college,  parents attending college,  caring for an elderly parent, and having large medical expenses are things that colleges may consider when determining whether you  have financial need.

Pass this information along!

Note: To all high school seniors and current college students, The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) – fafsa.ed.gov –  for this upcoming fall is now available. Check with the colleges you are applying to or currently attend, it is usually a required step in applying for financial aid and you don’t want to miss any deadlines!

Pathways 4 Teens offers events on “How to Search Effectively for Scholarships” and “The True Cost of College and How to Pay for It”. Contact miriam@pathways4teen.com or go to our website http://www.pathways4teens.com for more information.