Why Teens Turn Down Sports Scholarships?


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!


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 Grades of Athletes Can Go Down in Off Season?


It is getting cooler and the seasons are changing from fall to winter so students are also transitioning in the activities that they do. My son plays football which everyone knows is an intense sport. What I have noticed with him, as well as with many of the student athletes that I have spoken to, is a drop in academic grades after the season is over.

Why? This seems to go against logic because they have more time on their hands. However, I believe this is exactly the problem, too much time. Too much time can lead to procrastination. You have the illusion of lots of time so you start to waste it on tasks such as video games, social media, etc., instead of getting homework done. Hence, the off season for athletes is when time management can be most challenging.

So what are students and parents to do? First, recognize what is happening and take proactive measures to change the situation. This is the perfect time to explore other interests. All athletes are just one injury away from no longer being able to do the sport that they love. Many times with the intensity of sports, athletes wrap their whole identity around their participation in sports. I have spoken to many athletes at the end of the senior year of high school who have no idea what their other interests are, not to mention what they want their college major to be.  It is important for athletes to take time out to try other things and discover the whole of who they are. Fill the extra time with exploration. Join a club or take a class in computer programming, art, or cooking. Taking as little as a few hours out of your week to explore something new, can help introduce a student to a life long passion and start them on the way to discovering who they are.

Side Bar: My intention is to do this blog weekly. However, we have been expanding our services to groups including sports teams, youth groups, and scout troops. Therefore, time has been at a premium. Check out our new group services, at http://pathways4teens.com/-Take_The_Time_Together.html . Plus come back and read our blog next week!