College Athletics: Does Your Teen Have What It Takes?

By Janet Eggenberger

Your high school student athlete is a stand-out in a particular sport. They have drawn a lot of attention locally, state-wide, and nationally. Certainly the coaches will be falling all over your child to recruit them to their school, right? Well….maybe but make sure your child knows what they’re getting into first.

One of my daughters and I went through the whole Division I recruiting process and we learned so much along the way. As a parent, it is easy to get caught up in the whole scholarship scene as coaches contact you and your student regularly through email, phone calls, mail, etc. making all kinds of offers and promises. Before it gets to the point of scheduling official recruiting visits, make sure that your student REALLY understands what being a college athlete is all about. They need to understand what that their college experience will entail and how it may be different from their friends who are non-athletes.

College athletics can be a very rewarding, positive, life-changing experience but it is not for every student. A teenager must understand that in DI athletics they will be living, sleeping, eating, and breathing that sport. They must be 100% devoted and completely passionate about the sport. They will be up four or five mornings a week by 6:00 am for weight-training and cardio conditioning. Their classes will need to be scheduled at specific times so they can fit in a 3 plus hour afternoon practice daily. They will have scheduled tutoring sessions and academic resource hours that they must keep regularly. Coursework and tests must often be rearranged to accommodate the competition schedule. They may be given “dry time” during competition season where they are told they cannot go out at all. They may need to attend summer school and their holiday break and Spring Break will be spent with the team away either practicing or having a team-building event. Keeping that kind of schedule does not allow the student much time to hang out with friends, join a club/fraternity/ sorority, study, or even sleep. 

My daughter ultimately decided college athletics was not “her thing” and walked away from her sport and a Big Ten scholarship. It about killed me but we knew that she had to do what was right for her and that meant walking away from a sport that she once loved but was now  ready to leave behind. She has no regrets but yet her friends that opted to compete college athletics have no regrets either because they love it. Bottom-line is it must be the child’s decision and not the parent. Don’t let your interests and desires rule your kids’.

Janet Eggenberger is the mother of three - 2 college girls and a high school boy. Janet is a member of the admissions team at a private college in Illinois.  She is a contributing blogger for EleMental Learning Tutoring.