What committing to a college really means
Finding the right college- possibly the most stressful time of your high school career. Many students do not prepare for their future until their final years of high school when the uncertainty of the future finally sets in. Although for high school athletes who aspire to be collegiate athletes, the search for a college is about more than just their education. The recruiting process is always changing and many students must take their future into their own hands when it comes to finding the right school and the right team for them.
The first major step in committing to a college sports program is typically to receive a verbal scholarship offer. This is when a coach will contact you about joining their program and will offer you some sort of agreement about what kind of financial aid you will be receiving by joining their team.
It is important to know that a verbal scholarship offer is made by the coach, not the school’s athletic department. A verbal scholarship offer is not an official agreement until financial aid papers and a contract have been signed. This is the first step in recruiting, though the process is far from over.
Once you have received a verbal scholarship offer, most coaches will want answers fairly quickly. Some coaches will even require a deadline for your answer. If you’ve received a verbal offer from a school that is one of your top picks it is important to answer quickly by responding with a verbal commitment. Even when you have committed, it is essential to remain on good terms with other coaches that you have been in contact with. Your situation, or the school’s situation, can always change.
The final step of the recruiting process is signing a National Letter of Intent, also referred to as a NLI. The college coach or a representative from the college can answer any questions you may have regarding the NLI. An NLI is not actually a required document, because the National Letter of Intent is voluntary for schools. Many students only sign a scholarship offer. Almost all division one schools are apart of the NLI program with the exception of the Ivy League and service academies. A National Letter of Intent also does not guarantee an athlete’s scholarships. According to John Infante’s article, “The NLI only requires that the athlete receive a scholarship offer for a specific academic year”.
For many student athletes the most appealing part of committing to play a sport in college is the chance of free or reduced tuition and other fees. Perhaps the most important thing to know is that scholarship offers can always be cut down and are not always binding.
For other athletes the search for the right school for them is all about the love of the sport and prolonging their athletic career. For those athletes a division two or division three school may be a better option for them. In division two and division three schools, athletic scholarships are not always given out as frequently. Many colleges in such divisions only give out academic scholarships rather than athletic scholarships.
Many athletes at Jonathan Alder are going through, or have already gone through, the recruiting process. Senior Jace Headings is currently looking to commit to run track in college. Headings first knew he wanted to run track in college at the end of his sophomore track season. Headings even gave up football to focus on track. The Ohio State University as well as the University of Cincinnati are among his top picks. Headings got into contact with these schools through his high school coach. His field of interest was a huge factor when narrowing down his decision. OSU is the number one engineering school in the state while UC is the number two engineering school in the state.
Senior Preston Eisnaugle committed to Marshall University in his sophomore year to continue his baseball career. Marshall had been a perfect fit for Eisnaugle when he first committed. He described it as having “a small school feel for a big school.” Eisnaugle had been committed until his junior year but decided to decommit when Marshall’s baseball program got a new coaching staff and reduced his scholarship money. Now that he is currently going through the recruitment process again, Eisnaugle said, “Now I realize I don’t want to go somewhere just because of how big the school is; “
Senior Lexi Thorpe recently committed to the University of South Carolina to join their equestrian program. Thorpe fell in love with the team and the school during her visit. Thorpe was first put into contact with the university when the university’s coach contacted her coach. She knew being a collegiate athlete was one of her dreams since she was a child. Knowing what she wanted to major in, Thorpe’s decision was largely affected by her field of interest.
These students as well as many others will go on to further their athletic careers as well as their education at the collegiate level. Taking what they’ve learned at Jonathan Alder, they will be able to continue advancing their abilities during their college experience.