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Tips for Parents

College Scholarship Myth

NPR published the commentary from John U. Bacon’s talk about College Scholarships. You should listen to it or read it: To Get a College Scholarship: Forget The Field, Hit The Books.

About ten years ago, a family friend invited me to dinner to talk to them and their freshman son about preparing for college soccer. Their main quest wash to navigate high school and club soccer in such a way as to best prepare their child for the ever elusive college scholarship.

With nearly twenty years of collegiate coaching experience, they assumed that I would be able to provide some valuable insight into the process. As we sat down to the dinner table, the first thing the dad shared was that they had been spending approximately $15,000 per year for the past few years on Joey’s (not his real name) soccer development. The first words out of my mouth were, “you should take that money and send Joey to a private school.” They laughed.

Dinner was fine, and I shared some philosophy and perspective on player development, which I believe mostly was disregarded, as it really wasn’t what they ‘wanted” to hear. They wanted a road map to a college scholarship. It doesn’t really exist.

The sad news about this particular story is that this same young man called me four years later in February looking for a job. You see, he enrolled in a university that did not even have a men’s varsity soccer team, and he failed out after one semester….academic probation! Maybe my advice wasn’t that far off after all.

Why is it that parents refuse to believe the statistics about success rates within youth sports? If I took 10 parents and asked them to stand up together, and then asked them if they thought that their child would quit sports by the age of 13, I bet that not one of them would raise their hand. Parents cannot believe that their child would ever quit.

The fact is, 7 out of those 10 will have a child quit. With 70% gone, we now have the remaining 30% go on to play in high school. Oh, by the way, those 70% are now relieved because they have just gotten their lives back…no more running around the country every weekend, schlepping the entire family to some random tournament.

Now, of those 30% who made it into high school sports, only 2% will get a college scholarship. It should be noted, that in most sports outside of football, most collegiate coaches are splitting up their scholarships so that more kids can get help. So, while your kid might get a scholarship, chance are it’s only paying a small percentage of their actual college costs.

Are you ready for some more hard facts? 33% of all collegiate athletes quit. Roughly 50% suffer from severe anxiety and/or depression, many of whom are seeking counseling or medication…..legal and illegal.

Isn’t it time that we ask ourselves just what we are doing? John U. Bacon has got it right. We need to send our kids outside to play. They need to figure out how to play on their own and create fun games. No coaches, no parents, no referees…..just kids figuring it out!

- Steve Locker

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