Prospective College Athlete FAQs

From How Recruiting Works to Applying for Athletic Scholarships

Parents of prospective college athletes have many questions, from how to get on a college team to whether to help their athlete on their own. To get our perspective on these questions, read the FAQs below. Note that many of the following questions are answered even more fully in the Student Athlete Series e-books from Doorway to College.

Q. When does recruiting start?

Q. Is my child being recruited?

Q. Do academics matter to a prospective college athlete?

Q. Should I take the SAT or ACT — and when?

Q. What color shirt?

Q. What will my child learn in the Student Athlete Series e-books?

Q. Why should parents get involved? We're not the ones going to college.

Q. Do you guarantee my child will get a scholarship if we read your e-books?

Q. How will this information help my child play college sports?

Q. When should we visit schools?

Q. We're intelligent people, why can't we just navigate the process on our own?

Q. Isn't there free information online?

Q. What are common pitfalls to avoid as my student tries to get on a college team?

Q. How do I know which division my athlete should be looking at?

Doorway to College Answers ...

Q. When does recruiting start?

A. Chances are recruiting has already started for your athlete. This doesn't mean your child can't catch up, but it does mean that all the information you both can get on how to make up ground is vital for your son's or daughter's success. In the Student Athlete Series e-books, you’ll learn the important steps your athlete should be taking — from middle school through the senior year of high school. 

Q. Is my child being recruited?

A. This is one of the biggest confusions for athletes and parents. Just because your child is getting letters — perhaps frequently — that does not mean he or she is actually high up on a recruiting list for that school. We break down the methods of communication and their seriousness in the PCA E-books.

Q. Do academics matter to a prospective college athlete?

A. Academics are a major component of college athletics at any level. If your student cannot make the grades in high school, chances are he or she will not make them in college, where there is greater independence and potentially greater challenge in coursework. Learn more about the expectations and demands on a college student athlete’s schedule in the Student Athlete Series e-books.

Q. Should my student athlete take the SAT or ACT — and when?

A. The NCAA — and individual schools — have ACT or SAT cut scores students must meet in order to play sports at the collegiate level. Meeting that score — or exceeding it — is definitely in your athlete's interest. Doorway to College publishes ZAPS Focused Test Prep, so we have great insight into the tests, what scores your student needs, and how to succeed on these college admissions exams. In ZAPS test prep seminars and webinars, we explain to your child how to raise an ACT or SAT score in the shortest amount of time possible and for an affordable price.

You don't want your child to miss playing college sports because of a low test score. If your student is struggling with the tests, test prep is essential. With the right prep course, your child’s score can change for the better; don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

Q. What color shirt?

A. As green shirts and gray shirts have gotten more popular, understanding the differences and how they compare to red-shirting is vital to understanding the options college coaches may be considering for your son or daughter. In the Student Athlete Series e-books, we break down each shirt color and how they impact your child’s athletic career. 

Q. What will my child learn in the Student Athlete Series E-books?

A. Your child will learn how to proceed in the complicated and often scary process of transitioning from high school to college athletics. Four main topics are covered, including goal-setting (#1); choosing a Division (#2); creating a game plan (#3); and being successful in college (#4). See the Student Athlete Series E-books page for more information.

Q. Why should parents get involved? We're not the ones going to college.

A. While ultimately your student lives with his or her decision about where to go to college, where a student goes to college is truly a family decision. Your student could not have made it as far as he or she has without parental support, and this doesn't completely end when it comes to choosing a college. Parents and their student should work together to find the best college for the student, a school that fits within the family's budget and plan. You’ll also find that much of the information geared to the student needs to be understood by the parents as well. Don’t leave this important stage in your child’s career to chance; your input can help guide your child to make decisions in his or her — and your family’s — best interest.

Q. Do you guarantee my child will get a scholarship if we read your e-books?

A. Any book or program that guarantees a scholarship should have its credibility strongly questioned. Unfortunately, the opportunity to play college athletics is not afforded to every individual who wants it. And, within the group that does play college sports, only a relatively small percentage is awarded full-ride athletic scholarships.

What we offer is a way to help students get the most out of their abilities and maximize their potential. Avoiding missteps along the recruiting path and understanding how to develop relationships with college athletic coaches will benefit students greatly in terms of opportunities they will be afforded for college. Keep in mind that tuition discounting at Division III colleges awards a high quality education at an affordable price point.

Q. How will this information help my child play college sports?

A. Athletes don't play a sport without a strategy or game plan. They shouldn't try to play the college transition game uninformed and without a success plan, either. What we want to do is provide the knowledge that athletes and parents need to develop a plan for the future and execute that plan to be successful.

Q. When should we visit schools?

A. The sooner your child can get on campus and start building relationships, the better. Plan to take unofficial visits locally and work your way up to larger programs. In the Student Athlete Series e-books, we will break down attending camps, taking unofficial visits, and everything you need to know to be successful in your five official visits.

Q. We're intelligent people, why can't we just navigate the process on our own?

A. Even the most intelligent people usually talk to a salesperson to buy a car and a real estate agent to buy or sell a house. Specialists in the area of college athletics can provide valuable information that will help you, as an intelligent person, procure the best options to make the best choice for your student's future. 

The argument lately has been that college is not just a 4 to 5 year decision, but rather a 40 to 50 year decision. This underscores the importance of learning as much as you can about the process. Don't wait to learn from schools, coaches, and recruiters, because they aren't as committed to helping your athlete as they are to making a sales pitch to help their organization. They may be doing nothing wrong, but their actions might not necessarily be in your child's best interest.

Q. Won't my child's coach help us go through the process?

A. In a perfect world, yes. In reality, studies show that students meet with their guidance counselor about preparing for college for an average of just 38 minutes per year. Just as counselors are overwhelmed by the sheer number of students to visit with in such a small amount of time, your child’s coach most likely has a lot on his or her plate already as well. Hopefully your athlete’s coach is supportive and will work to help in any way he or she can. Yet, even with an aggressively supportive coach, a lot of the work will fall on parents and athletes to sell themselves and develop their own relationships with universities and colleges.

Q. Isn't there free information online?

A. There is always information online — actually, in the technology age, there might be too much information online. In the Student Athlete Series e-books, we share with you the information that you will need, present it in a user-friendly manner, and answer the specific questions that you have, as this is such an individualized process for each athlete and family. 

Two of our Student Athlete Series e-books are also free:

#1: Goal-Setting for the Prospective Student Athlete ... And Their Parents

#2: The Division Decision: Which One Is Right for You?

The next two are for purchase at a modest price:

#3: A Game Plan for Playing College Sports: Year-by-Year Advice for the Prospective College Athlete
#4: How to Succeed as a College Athlete: Managing Your Sport, Your Grades, Your Health and Making It to Graduation

Q. What are common pitfalls to avoid as my student tries to get on a college team?

A. Unfortunately there are too many to list, but we work through them in the e-books. One all-too-common story tells of an athlete who sent a letter to a college coach talking about how excited he was to make an impact on the coach’s program. He made an impassioned pitch for an opportunity to play at the school. However, the athlete made a mistake and had addressed the letter to the school's biggest rival. That school took it personally and stopped recruiting the athlete. This happens more frequently than you would think. As you reach out to more and more coaches and apply to more and more schools, be very careful. Beyond college coaches, we also hear this complaint quite frequently from admissions counselors, who deal with the same “impassioned” form letters. 

Q. How do I know which division my athlete should be looking at?

A. Chances are you don't truly know. There are several methods you can use to see where your athlete may stack up, but if there's still time left in high school, there is still time to try to move your athlete up a level. In the Student Athlete Series e-books, we help your athlete get the most out of his or her ability while understanding that only a small percentage of athletes play in Division I. Many athletes we work with don’t fully understand the various divisions and what it means to play at each level. Sometimes the best fit for your athlete may be a level you hadn't truly considered.

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