Does going to a private school guarantee a scholarship?
The life of a star high school athlete should be relatively straight forward. Your job is to study hard, practice harder, stay out of trouble, and wait for the scholarship offers to start rolling in. In the world of college recruiting this is a reactive approach. Sure, the student is doing all of the right things on and off the field, but quite often this may not be enough. Taking on this mindset could have you end up like a friend of mine, a friend who shortly after winning the Class A State Championship in November of his senior year, had still not heard from a single college by January.
My friend, let’s call him “Cam”, had been playing football since he was 8 years old. From a young age Cam dominated the gridiron. He played almost every position early on but excelled at the quarterback position and had the natural leadership qualities that are so important to commanding the
offense. By the time he was in the 8th grade, Cam was an unstoppable force in his final year of little league. When it came time to decide which high school to attend, Cam’s father, (we’ll call “Tom”) was ready to make a large investment to send him to a prestigious private school. To the tune of 10,000 dollars a year for tuition, Tom was betting big on Cam’s future. The all-boys Catholic high school had been to the state championship 11 times over the past 20 years, and would offer a great opportunity for Cam to come on board and make an impact right away.
Does winning a state title guarantee a scholarship?
By October of Cam’s senior year, it would appear that Tom’s bet was going to pay off. The team had an 8-1 record, a top seed in the playoffs, and Cam was having the best season of his young career. Everything on the surface appeared to be going very well, but underneath there was a lot of anxiety when it came to garnering interest from colleges.
“… Cam is our oldest, and when it came to the recruiting process, we were a little lost. We thought Cam’s coach would take an active role in promoting Cam both on and off the field. But he did next to nothing to market what Cam could do. By late December, we had no idea where or if he’d be able to play football in college.” – Tom
You own the recruiting process
I know from personal and anecdotal experience that not all high school coaches are this passive and uninvolved. Some coaches have relationships with college recruiters all over the country and will actively work to promote their players. Whereas other coaches just want to coach and that’s where their job ends. No matter what kind of coach your kid has in high school, the key is to be proactive in the recruiting journey and not reactive.
Tom was fed up. He was paying just shy of 10k a year for Cam to attend the high school of one of the most elite football programs in the state, and his coach was doing nothing to help him get to the next level. Tom and Cam decided to get proactive. They started sending emails with highlight clips to college coaches all over the region. The two hit the road and started going to college games to go talk to coaches in person. After a few weeks of emailing, calling, and driving all over to various campuses, their proactive work paid off.
Cam was offered a “preferred walk-on” opportunity with a Division II program in his home state. The preferred walk-on status would allow for Cam to work hard and potentially earn a scholarship to help pay for school.
“In the end, I’m happy where Cam ended up. But if I could go back in time, I would have started proactively reaching out to colleges in Cam’s Sophomore or Junior year. I see a lot of parents left in the dark when it comes to the world of recruiting, but if I could offer any advice, it would be to get started early and to be as proactive as possible.” – Tom
In the fall of 2014, Cam earned a scholarship.