On the Road to Athletic Scholarships:

A Parent's Perspective

By

Jackie Arnold

We, as parents, if not by definition then certainly by default, are the personification of strength and security for our children. Our children depend on us to provide for their daily needs, to celebrate their successes, to mourn their defeats, to solve the problems that are too difficult for them to handle. And we do it. Caring for our children is our second nature, and no matter how difficult the struggle, we do it without question. It is as natural as breathing. This reality made me uniquely unprepared for the detours, potholes, and roadblocks that awaited me on the journey to my daughter’s athletic scholarships.

A few basic truths include:

  • The best athlete does not always get the scholarship.

  • The student’s athletic record does not speak for itself.

  • Simply graduating high school does not guarantee that a student can attend any four-year college that expresses an interest in him/her.

  • The effort to find the “right” scholarship and situation for your child needs to begin early in the junior year of high school.

  • The preparation to be a college athlete begins no later than the first day of high school.

  • There are certain things that can be done each year to help ensure that the process will end successfully.

8th Grade:

  • Find out if the high school your child is to attend has a golf team; if not, considering petitioning the Board of Education to have one started. If this isn’t financially feasible for the school district, perhaps a “club” team for several neighboring high schools is feasible.

9th Grade:

  • Know that all students by law have a right to equal access to the curriculum of the school.

  • Make sure that your child is in a college preparatory or accelerated academic program. Have your child join the team.

  • Help your child to create a schedule that leaves adequate time for both study and golf.

  • Help your child to develop a strong work ethic.

  • Begin a scrapbook for all newspaper clippings and highlights in your child’s golf career.

  • Have your child go to summer school to retake any class in which he/she earned less than a “C”.

  • Get your student involved in a junior golf program to compete in the tournaments, which develops a competitive spirit and toughness.

10th Grade:

  • Continue all of the above items.

  • Take the SAT for practice.

  • Begin to request college catalogues for the purpose of comparison. Help your child to determine the type of campus that will be best for him/her.

  • Find out which tournaments college coaches tend to attend, and help your child to get into these. (For west coast girls, some important ones include CIF finals, Silver Bells, and the California Junior Girl’s State Championship.)

11th Grade:

  • Continue all of the above.

  • Have your child sign up with the NCAA Clearinghouse.

  • Have your child take the PSAT. Several opportunities for recognition and scholarships are available as a result of this test score.

  • Get on line, and go to the counseling office at your child’s school. The counseling offices in most high school have publications that list special interest scholarships and many are listed on the internet. Have your child apply to any for which he meets the requirements.

  • Have your child send a letter of introduction along with a copy of his/her most recent and most notable athletic successes, a video of his/her swing, and dates and locations of upcoming tournaments to the coaches of the colleges he/she is most interested in. This should be updated and resent every 6 months. Coaches get thousands of letters; help your child to stand out from the masses.

  • Coaches will call, and they will ask to speak to your child, not to you. Practice various questions and responses with your child so that he/she will sound polished and mature.

  • Plan to visit the colleges your child is most interested in.

  • Take the SAT or ACT in May. (Statistically, minority students tend to score higher on the ACT.)

  • Request admission applications from the colleges that your child is interested in attending. Be sure to complete and mail these by the deadlines, and send everything by certified mail.

  • Be organized! Keep separate files for the materials received from each coach interested in your child.

  • Have your child compete and be seen. College coaches look not only at the final score, but also at your child’s, technique, demeanor, and interaction with the other players.

12th Grade:

  • Continue all of the above as appropriate.

  • Depending on the original score, consider having your child retake the SAT or ACT.

  • Have your child complete a “brag sheet” that includes community service, academic achievement, athletic achievement, and any other extra-curricular activities. This will help teachers and counselors write better letters of recommendation. Be sure that your child allows at least 2 weeks for these to be completed. Have your child write thank you notes to anyone who completes a letter of recommendation.

  • Become familiar with NCAA rules regarding the maximum number of official college visits that are allowed, and what the length of these can be.

  • Coaches have limited resources, and are often hesitant to make firm offers too early. An offer constitutes a commitment of those funds to that student; coaches, therefore cannot offer the same scholarship to several athletes. Thus, they fear offering a scholarship too early in the process. They really try to “feel out” the intentions of the student. When they are sure that they want the student, and fairly sure that the student wants to go to their school, then a firm offer comes. Be patient! It is like a delicately choreographed dance.

  • Advise your child not to accept the first offer that comes unless it is to his/her first choice school. Just as coaches fear committing too early, so should you.

  • There are scholarships and schools for every child. Don’t become “locked” into one possibility only. Be prepared to explore every avenue of financial assistance and post-secondary education.

"The journey is long, arduous, and frustrating; but there is success at the end of the road."

TRUER WORDS WERE NEVER SPOKEN!

Thank you for attending Teens on the Green Los Angeles Tournament. Teens on the Green and Young Golfers of America Association sincerely hope that you had a wonderful experience and were able to collect a wealth of information to assist you and your child for the future.

Marilyn A. Evans

 For information regarding YGAA's Junior Golf Program call 323-292-7030 or contact the editor at marilyn@ygaa,org

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