Q: If I am interested in playing intercollegiate athletics, when should I start planning?
You should really start the process your freshman year of high school! Schedule a meeting with your school counselor and discuss the proper sequence of classes you will need to participate in NCAA Division I or Division II athletics. (Keep in mind that only one percent of all high school athletes will play at the Division I level.) Review the NCAA Eligibility Center information with your counselor and become familiar with its standards. Student-athletes interested in either of these two divisions will need to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center (formerly called the NCAA Clearinghouse) during the junior year of high school. Registering and being cleared to play college athletics from NCAA Eligibility Center does not guarantee acceptance into your college of choice. Admissions departments are looking for rigor in your course work and well-rounded individuals.
Q: What is the most important advice when trying to find the right college?
Academics and getting your degree are the first priorities. Never choose a school based on a coach or playing a sport. The best litmus test is to consider if you’d still attend the school even if you couldn’t play sports or if the coach left. Playing a college sport is a wonderful bonus but shouldn’t be the main reason you select the institution.
Chris Bianchi is president of Red Penguin Athletics, athlete placement service. Contact the Recruit Doctor at email@example.com and schedule your free 10-minute college athletic consultation.