D.G. of Woodsburgh, NY writes:

My son, a high school junior, is really into sports. Which colleges would be best for him?

The College Whisperer responds:

When you say, "really into sports," do you mean playing them, or watching them? Are we talking about a varsity linebacker, one who may well be recruited by a Big Ten school like Purdue, or a fella who would be pleased as punch spending Saturday afternoons taking on the rock climbing wall at High Point University?

Is your son a scholar/athlete, to whom academics is at least as important as what takes place on the field of play, or "really into sports," meaning sitting back with a bag of chips and a can of pop to watch Syracuse take on Louisville at the Carrier Dome?

Taking a holistic approach to college matching, as well as the application and admissions process, even armed with answers to these basic questions, The College Whisperer would want to know more about your son. Much more.

What are his interests and aspirations? Plans after college and career goals? Academic aptitude? Social prowess? What is he looking for in a college campus, lifestyle, student body, life aside from athletics?

Just the tip of the college matching iceberg, really, and a critical step in gauging where to spend four very important years in a young person's life.

Assuming I was able to ascertain all of this information from your son -- either by means of a thorough assessment during the initial college planning session or water boarding (whatever works on a high school student these days LOL) -- not even The College Whisperer could tell you which school, among many likely to fit the bill, would be the best.

"Best" being such a subjective word, whether in selecting a college to apply to or a restaurant to dine at after the game. Why, these days, even the Zagat ratings of "best" restaurants is a popularity contest!

A good college planner, working closely with both student and parent(s), can, to be sure, narrow (and, in most instances, level) the field, helping you and your son decide not only where he would best fit in, but which colleges would offer the best fit for him.

If we are talking about pure athletics here -- as in NCAA Division I, II or III sports -- a good place for every high school athlete to start (in fact, a must) is the NCAA Eligibility Center. The need-to-know, need -to-do, need-to-go-to website for every prospective college-bound student-athlete. Learn the rules, the requirements, the practices, even the plays, then sit down with your college planning counselor to discuss the how-to. Strategy in college admissions for a student-athlete is as important as strategy on the field of play.

For the high school student-athlete who hopes to take the sporting route to college, some sage advice courtesy of our friends at Elite Sports Marketing, LLC.:

1) Get Started Early - A survey of college coaches revealed that 30% of scholarship athletes get on a coach’s recruiting list as freshman and 45% as sophomores.

2) Know Your Role:
Students – Excel in the classroom and in your sport
Parents – Research colleges, develop the plan, and managing the process
Both – Contacting and following-up with coaches

3) Cast a Wide Net - Identify 30-50 (or more) schools that you are interested in attending. This will increase your prospects for success.

4) Work the Process Year-round - To be successful in the college recruiting process you must work hard year-round. Focus on academic success throughout the school year. Work hard during the season and in the off-season to improve your skills. During the summer attend camps and participate on club and AAU teams to showcase your talents against the best competition.

A Special Consideration
: Work hard at this process, because the outcome may determine your academic, personal and career prospects for the next 40 years.

You should also give a read to the NCAA's Guide for the College-Bound Student Athlete.

College sports, whether on the conference and division level, intramural, or simply a pick-up game on the quad, is an exciting, fun, and often integral part of the campus experience. Let a College Connection planning counselor help you hit the ground running (or jumping, or kicking, or...).

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of The College Whisperer.
* * *
Comments? Questions for The College Whisperer?
Write us at info@TheCollegeWhisperer.com

The road to college begins at College Connection.