Here are some of my thoughts on winning an athletic, academic or any scholarship for that matter. According to the College Board, college tuition rates and fees are expected to continue to rise faster than family incomes, once again. As of June 2018, the average annual cost for private college will come in at $46,950 (including $33,000 in tuition), and the in-state cost for a year of public college will be $20,770 (with tuition of $9,648).
The good news is that most students —more than 70%—receive some form of financial aid. Better yet, thousands of dollars in available aid go unclaimed each year. So stay on top of things, stay with us at Fallon Sports throughout your entire recruiting process and let us help to guide you to the best college opportunity for you.
Do not look at the numbers above and only seek public colleges because they are cheaper, it does not work like that. From all my years of being involved with the college recruiting and admissions process, the piece that is ignored by parents (and students) is that they just don’t go through the entire process, they seek shortcuts or the easy path to a scholarship. This is a recipe for disaster, if you truly want your child to have a great college experience, graduate and play the game of baseball you must go through the entire process and the longer you are involved, the better.
Let’s look at how to maximize your share of available scholarship funds?
Start early, you should actually start your freshman year of high school.
You can begin earning scholarship money as early as ninth grade from outside scholarships and save scholarship funds in an escrow account, where they can earn interest until you begin paying tuition bills.
On the academic side of things, your freshman year matters, so do not think that college admissions personnel are going to just forgive your academics because you were only 14.
In addition, you can begin to understand how the recruiting process actually works, what college coaches are looking for and begin to do those things that’ll bring you closer to having much of your college paid for by earning (or winning) a scholarship, whether it be academic, athletic or other.
Knowledge is key - many parents think freshman or sophomore year is too early to start, but they are missing the bigger picture. It is not about the college coach seeing your son at that age or even about the exposure piece, it is more about arming your child with the necessary information and experiences so when he gets to the point of making a decision, he will have all the information and personal experiences needed to make the right decision.
Get Bigger, Stronger, Faster - Look at how physical the current college players are in the positions you play at the colleges you are interested in?
Compare your present body and athletic tools against a player in your position at whatever college you’re interested in and ask yourself how many years do you have to reach his age and what is your plan to reach that level of physicality and athleticism.
Be Good and Get Better - Be the best player on your team, then be the best player in your school district, then be the best player in your city, then be the best player in your state, then be the best player in your region of the country and so on … too many players just settle for who is around them and try to fit in. Well you are reading this because you want a scholarship, right? You realize this is a competition, right? There are thousands of high school and junior college players right now that want that same scholarship, what are you doing right now to win it? Get better and do not settle.
Think about this -
if you hoping for a NCAA D1 baseball scholarship and are a 2018 graduating senior shortstop, you are competing against the 2015/2016 high school senior shortstop who chose to attend a junior college, is now 2-3 years older, in his 20’s and that much stronger, faster and quicker. He also has over 100 competitive JC baseball games under his belt and 500 college at bats. If you were a D1 college coach and needed to continue to win, why would you take the smaller, less experienced high school guy?
If you are in the mix for a NCAA D2 baseball scholarship in the same situation above, do you realize that D1 players can “bounce back” to a D2 program (in most cases) and play right away. If you were a D2 college coach and needed to continue to win, why would you take the smaller, less experienced high school guy when you can either take the JC guy that the D1 program did not select OR the D1 “bounce back” guy - making it even more difficult to go D2 out of high school.
There are circumstances for everything and rules that regulate the above but it’s important that you know this exists. It’s not as simple as D1 gets the best, D2 gets the next and so on and so forth - not even close that.
Get an honest assessment - As a parent, I know it’s easy to see all the great things our children do or have done throughout their lives. This is natural and should never be discouraged, but it has no place in college recruiting. Let a set of experienced eyes make an evaluation of your son, try to get your son the opportunity to play in front of or with that person. Tools are one thing, but heart, character, passion for the game, willingness to practice, fail and get better are things that coaches want to know about. College baseball is hard, it’s competitive and everyone does not play. It’s also not fair and you need to remember that the coach is being paid to win, graduate players and run the program HE wants to run or is scripted by the school. You need to figure where your son fits in his (this) program, not where you think he fits in his (this) program because that is irrelevant and trust me, if you have that mindset your life as a parent of a college baseball player will be an absolutely horrible existence.
Be willing to relocate - Understand that by expanding your search geographically, you’ll be giving your son so many more quality opportunities. By giving him the chance to visit these colleges and cities early in high school career, you’ll give him the information he needs on whether he will be able to survive away from home and you all will begin realize and be more comfortable with the idea that it’s actually part of life and the next step in your child’s life.
There is so much more to this and I’ll be posting later this spring on just this point. The importance of letting your child go, experience and helping them into the transition to their future.
Social Media - Clean up your online presence by making sure that your social media accounts present a professional image and highlight your interests, accomplishments, and aspirations. Schools and scholarship-bestowing organizations want students and recipients they can be proud of and who are serious about their futures. With a growing number of scholarship funds and schools checking students’ social media presence during their search process, you’ll want to burnish your online image anyway. College coaches will immediately begin to follow you when they have an interest.
Work with Fallon Sports - Already a member? Keep us updated with everything and get involved! The more we know about you the more we can help! Not a member? Join now so we can help you get through this confusing process in a experienced, personal and very professional approach.
Fall Travel/Club/Scout Teams - Show college coaches your dedication to the sport of baseball by getting involved when not in high school season. If you play another sport, that is great - play that, show them your are committed and organized in whatever you do. Coaches do still loves multi-sport athletes. Just do not do nothing! Like some of the other points here I will post later this month on teams and organizations and how to choose the best programs for you. If you can’t wait for that post please reach out to me at email@example.com so I can answer you specifically.
Churches/organizations - Next, check with your local religious community, school, and civic organizations for local and regional scholarships that aren’t likely to be listed on national search engines. If you have been affiliated with an extracurricular program or organization or do volunteer work, check to see if these affiliated groups offer scholarships.
Do the research - Don’t enter any scholarship contests that ask for application fees. There are billions of dollars worth of available scholarship funds that do not require fees waiting to be claimed. In addition, be wary of signing up with any scholarship sites or search engines that require a fee to access their databases. Instead, start by using free, reliable scholarship search engines such as Cappex, Good Call, Fastweb, or TFS Scholarship (and CollegeXpress!). Many of these sites use reliable algorithms to match you with scholarship opportunities you may be uniquely qualified for based on income, background, gender, region, extracurricular activities, and academic interests and they are FREE.
Recruiting Services - Don’t hire a national recruiting service. There are hundreds of thousands of players out there in every sport who are trying to get a scholarship with parents who will do anything they can to help their children. National recruiting services come calling with slick websites and massive databases and scare you into believing you don’t know what is going on and their name and connections are the answer! If you say no, there is another guy down the street that will say yes … it’s a never ending vicious cycle. Well here’s the deal, I bet nobody in that service has never seen you play, I bet they will not follow up and see how much you’ve improved and as you need to re-evaluate your recruiting process and colleges, they’ll just ask that YOU send them updates. (How verifiable is that?). I can guarantee you college coaches don’t go running back to their devices to see which names a services has sent them. They don’t because they know these services have nothing vested in the player, they have never seen the player play and they do not know the make-up of the player. What do they have? Their name, grad year, position and contact information … which is exactly what the college needs to invite you to their camp … so guess what you get by hiring that service … you usually get invited to a camp.
Academic Scholarships - Be sure you are applying to colleges that are within or that you are above their reach academically. Meaning if the average incoming freshman has a GPA of 3.0 with 1020 SAT and you are a 3.75 student with a 1300 SAT, realize you will in the upper portion of students who will receive more academic scholarships. So be sure you have enough of those types of colleges involved in your search.
Outside Scholarships - This is an area of huge debate as well as opportunity. Just be sure you know what you are doing or you can really waste a lot of time. When you know what to do and actually do it … you can get thousands upon thousands of dollars in free money!
See if your municipality sponsors a “promise program.” Promise programs partner local municipalities, including states, counties, cities, and even neighborhoods, with philanthropists or corporations that promise to cover in-state public college costs for qualified students that are not covered by other grants.
Extra effort counts - Some experts estimate that supplying optional information on free scholarship search engines can generate twice as many matches, which means twice as many opportunities to earn free money for college.
Play the numbers by applying for as many applicable scholarships as possible. Keep in mind that smaller scholarships often have fewer applicants but before you spend too much time on any one application, look carefully at all the requirements so you do not waste time on a scholarship for which you are ineligible.
Focus on applications that require longer essays, as these tend to have fewer applicants. Don’t introduce yourself in the essay; many scholarships require blind application materials and will disqualify materials with names or other identifying information. Be sure to highlight anything that sets you apart from other applicants, including hobbies, career interests, and, particularly, volunteer work.
After you have completed essay sections for the first few applications, you will find that there are sections you can reuse for each new application, thereby leveraging the hard work you’ve already completed.
Before you hit the “Send” button, make sure you proofread each application and essay carefully. You can consider running all of your writings through a site like Grammarly if you’re looking for grammar and spelling assurance. The tool scans writing for spelling and grammar mistakes, ensuring you put your best foot forward.
Get creative - Finally, look for scholarship money awarded in your areas of interest; for example, social justice, the environment, speech and debate, or music and theater. Some scholarships are open to any student who has participated in an area of endeavor, while others are designed for students with particular professional aspirations.
Hopefully this is helpful, please stay tuned as we break down many of the areas above but as always if you have any specific questions, please do not hesitate to drop me an email.