The new year is coming up fast, and so are a lot of things that student-athletes need to be prepared for. Some of them are athletic but the focus here is on two academic to dos – before you can play in college, you have to get admitted.
Before applying to any school, make sure that you have a good idea of where you are on a coach’s recruiting list. You must be interested in the school and they must be interested in you. This can help you in the admissions process (interest from an athletic program can sometimes be a factor in admission) and will prevent you from spending your valuable time and money applying to schools that are not interested or where you will not be a good fit.
The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is one of the most important documents for any college student. If you do not fill out a FAFSA, you will not be eligible for any financial aid at any school. Whether your family is financially comfortable or is in a tight situation, you should fill out a FAFSA – there are all kinds of scholarships out there, some of which factor in financial need and some of which do not.
You can find the form and all the information you will need on the FAFSA website. Make sure you have your tax information, and your parents’ tax information, handy while you are filling it out. If you’re having trouble, you can ask your parents, coach, or guidance counselor for help.
Schools and states all have their own deadlines for when you can submit the FAFSA, but the first day that you can submit one for the upcoming school year is January 1, 2012, which is also when schools can start awarding financial aid. There’s only so much to go around, and when it’s gone, it’s gone. That means the longer you wait to fill out your FAFSA, the less likely you are to receive some of the limited amount of financial aid. Get it done and get as much money in your pocket as you can.
2. College Applications
If you don’t apply to a school, you can’t be an athlete there, no matter how good you are. Hopefully you have already targeted 10-15 schools where you know you will be a good fit, athletically and academically. Depending on where you’re applying and how sure you are, you can choose one of three ways to apply:
a. Early Decision
You should only apply his way if you are absolutely sure that a college is your first choice. If you are admitted under Early Decision, you have to attend the college that admitted you. If you apply to a school using Early Decision, you cannot apply early (Decision or Action) to any other schools, but can still apply to other schools under Regular Admissions.
b. Early Action
This choice lets you apply early to colleges, but unlike Early Decision is, you do not have to attend a college that accepts you under Early Action. You may apply to multiple schools this way. It can sometimes (but not always) give you an admissions edge to apply early, and you will know sooner whether or not you were accepted.
c. Regular Admission
This is the “standard” way of applying. It is not binding and you will not receive any early notification of whether you were accepted.
Wherever you’re applying, make sure to follow these key steps:
a. Research the school
b. Visit the school
c. Reach out to the Coach
d. Ask questions (make sure you know them beforehand – don’t try to wing it!)
f. Get accepted
g. Make your decision!