Does Your Kid Go to College to Get the Best Possible Education, or to Play Tennis?
From time to time readers of the blog asking advice about finding a right college for a tennis player. When those requests come from foreign players, I understand them. However, if American tennis players ask me, I am confused a bit because there are many resources on the Internet and you can use them.
You should know that all incoming freshman who plan on attending any NCAA Division I or II university must register with the NCAA Eligibility Center, meet all academic and amateur requirements and be certified by the NCAA Eligibility Center. Some useful resources are: https://www.ncaa.org/, https://www.tennisrecruiting.net/, and https://www.collegetennisonline.com/
Before you register with the NCAA Eligibility Center, you need to evaluate your level of play and understand which division is right to you. Then go on collegetennisonline.com and research colleges. Division I is for good competitive players from 4 stars +.
However, if you think your actual level higher than it is on tennisrecruiting ranking, you can try to go to Division I; it is quite possible. One more thing, often be accepted to unranked college teams in Division I is easier than make top 20 Division II. Two stars players and lower have good chances to play in Division 3 and junior college teams.
Then, narrow your search for 50 colleges and start to prepare necessary information about your academic and tennis level, video, etc. Do not be afraid to email tennis coaches directly, you can find their emails on colleges’ websites. I know several players who successfully found right schools and received athletic scholarships without any intermediary.
If you are not sure about your ability to communicate effectively with coaches/admissions you may pay to recruiting agencies and they help you with choosing a right college. In that case, make sure that you understand what will be the result of their job.
When you communicate with coaches, who are interested in your player, be careful especially with some coaches from top universities in Division III. If some of them say, “You are on top of my recruiting list” it means nothing. You should ask the coach to write an official letter that you will be accepted to the college, make sure that the coach has right to promise you that and ask to give you confirmation from the admission office.
I write about that because last year a tennis coach from the top college convinced a player that he would be accepted to the college. As a result, the student applied to the college on early admission and was rejected. When the admission director was asked why it happened, he answered that the tennis coach should look for the best players for the team and encourages them to apply, but it cannot guarantee admission.
So, do not repeat this mistake. By the way, some other tennis coaches from top 10 colleges (Division III) honestly said that they could not influence admission departments’ decisions.
Finally, think twice about sending your kid to a college on athletic scholarship. For many families it works great, for example if your kid goes to Ivy League or another top 20 colleges. For other kids may be it is not very good. Yes, you can save good money but… ask yourself one more time “My kid goes to college to get the best possible education, or …my kid goes to play tennis for college?” That is a useful question.