Academics

Why High School Student-Athletes Need To Study

Athlete Studying
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Today’s post highlights some of the points made by one of our experts in a college recruiting webinar. Paul Putnam, a record-breaking track and field athlete and state champion football player at Skyline High School in Salt Lake City, went onto a full-ride track scholarship at Weber State University, where he ran the decathlon. Paul now trains world-class athletes at BASICS sports medicine in Utah.

This week, Paul outlined why high school student-athletes need to study.

You need to get the grades to play

The NCAA sets standards for high school athletes based on core courses. “This isn’t PE, or basket weaving, or photography,” Paul says. “English, math, science and history. Every year your high school submits a list of classes to the NCAA, which approves or denies it.”

So you have to take the right courses, and you have to get high enough grades in them in order to qualify to play through the NCAA Eligibility Center.

You can read through the long list of rules in the NCAA Guide for the College-Bound Athlete. One important chart to note is the sliding scale, which shows what you’ll need to score on tests like the SAT and ACT depending on the GPA you have in your core classes. (We’ve included it at the bottom of the page.)

Recruiters are starting early — so you do, too.

“The recruiting process is getting younger and younger, and the driving force behind it is technology,” Paul says. We reached the same conclusion when we ran the numbers on our data. “In my day, I didn’t have a highlight video you could send off on the Internet; you had to send it to a coach and hope they watched it on a projector.”

Just as recruiters are looking at younger athletes, a new NCAA rule sets academic requirements–starting with the Class of 2016–younger as well.

“You’ll need to complete ten of the 16 core courses before the start of your senior year, or you’ll be ineligible to play until you’re cleared,” Paul says. “If you come out of high school as a non-qualifier, you may choose an option like my son did, which is to go to a junior college and graduate with an associate degree before you go to a four-year college and complete your degree.”

(We’ve written about how important it is to discover yourself and what you want to accomplish with your education before, as well as why uncommitted seniors could succeed in junior college.)

Look for help before you need it so you’re prepared.

“Make sure you’re talking to your guidance counselors and you know that you’ve done everything you need to do academically to make everything go smoothly,” Paul says. “Your guidance counselor will be your best friend.”

Of course, guidance counselors will have answers to a number of your questions about college. But they might not know the specifics about what a college-bound student-athlete needs. Which is where a free evaluation with an NCSA scout comes in.NCAA GPA and test score sliding scale guidelines

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About the author
Andy McKernan

Andy McKernan is the content strategist at NCSA Athletic Recruiting. A content marketer with a background in creative writing, Andy brings several years of experience to NCSA.