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Ten Questions for Parents of High School Athletes to Ask When Considering Colleges

By David Brackman

Parents of high school athletes should be realistic when confronting the college aspirations of their sons and daughters. Less than one in 10 high school athletes goes on to play at any higher level, but for those determined to play at the next level, opportunities abound.

Today we’ll pose 10 important groups of questions that parents should ask when considering a college for their high school athlete. Answering these questions realistically will help parents zero in on the best programs for their children and help them get the most bang for their buck.

Depending on the situation, the answers to some of the questions listed here may be obvious. But many prompt additional related questions (also listed here), and there are also dozens about college recruiting not listed here. So, consider these ten groups a starting point rather than a comprehensive list.

  1. The primary question for most parents, whether their child is an athlete or not, is: How much is it going to cost us for our son or daughter to go to college? Have we saved enough for college costs? What is the financial impact if we have more than one student enrolled in college?

  2. Since our child is an athlete, how much of a discount will we get? What scholarships are available, both athletic and academic, and how do we earn them? How else can athletics (or academic prowess) help us lower the financial sting of our child’s college education costs?

  3. Are we overlooking the academic aspects of potential schools because we are too focused on the athletic aspects? Will our child qualify academically? What can we do during the high school years to assure that our child does qualify academically? Is the proposed academic program too demanding or too easy for our student-athlete?

  4. Is our child mature enough and determined enough to achieve his or her athletic goals in addition to the academic goals we set while not under our direct supervision? How will we be able to intervene if needed?

  5. What is a prospective school’s enrollment and setting? Large public university or small private college? Urban or rural? Secular or faith-based? Are we willing to compromise?

  6. What role will our child play in college in a particular athletic program? Will our child be content to come off the bench at a major school (and will we accept that)? Or does our son or daughter desire a more prominent role within a smaller athletic program? How much are we willing to gamble that our athlete is a late bloomer who could emerge as a college force?

  7. What is the success rate of the program(s) we are interested in? What tenure does the head coach have with the program and how have his or her teams performed at the conference, regional and national levels in recent years? Has our athlete established rapport with the coaching staff?

  8. What is a particular school’s graduation rate for athletes? Is tutoring or academic advising available to student-athletes?

  9. A college’s location can be a factor for students traveling to and from campus as well as parents who wish to attend games, so how close to home and/or easy to travel to is the prospective college and what are the projected costs of travel and lodging for parents?

  10. When graduation day arrives, how will we feel about our child’s college career – inside and outside the classroom – and will our sentiments match or exceed the expectations we had when we began the journey?

Many of the questions posed here require lengthy answers that, in turn, provoke other questions. We will address those in more detail in future features.

We also produced a list of Ten questions for high school athletes to ask when considering colleges for your review and consideration.

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