Quote of the Day

Our son was not prepared to handle the classwork at Princeton.


Offered by the parents of a Princeton (and medical school) graduate as the motivation for sending their younger son to prep school. Their older son attended a catholic high school before Princeton.



The Patriot League / Ivy League Misconception

The Patriot League and Ivy League have been linked together in many minds since the inception of the Patriot League about 25 years ago. There are three good reasons for this. One, the Patriot League was conceived, in part, to provide another league similar to the Ivy. Two, they are perceived as the two best academic D1 leagues in the country. Three, for a while they were the only two leagues in Division 1 that didn’t offer athletic scholarships. Ivy’s have never offered athletic scholarships. The Patriot League started out as a non-scholarship league, but that changed some time ago.

For some reason people, even those who should know better, still talk about Patriot and Ivy League schools as competing at the lowest level of D1 sports. They mention them as possible options for athletes who don’t have scholarship offers or are perceived to be marginal D1 athletes. This is particularly true in the revenue producing sports of football and basketball. Statements such as “well, he/she might be good enough to play at a Patriot or an Ivy” are still heard regularly. It’s an old perception that hasn’t been accurate for quite a while.

Here are two of the erroneous assumptions that lead to the misconception, followed by the reasons they are false.

  1. Schools can’t attract scholarship level athletes without scholarships
    1. Ivy League teams regularly get players who have scholarship offers. That’s right. Ivy schools beat scholarship schools for players every year.
      1. Extraordinary financial aid combined with the best educational opportunities makes the difference. Lots of schools offer scholarships. There are only a handful of Patriot and Ivy League schools.
        1. Families with a household income under $100,000 can expect to pay little or nothing for an Ivy League education.
      2. Their track record of success is so good they attract very talented athletes
    2. In the case of the non-revenue sports, these schools very often give more aid than scholarship schools. Think about how ironic that is. Why do you think they win titles in sports like lacrosse and hockey, and produce more than their share of Olympic athletes?
  2. The smartest kids generally aren’t the best athletes
    1. These schools are exceptional enough, and selective enough, that they attract student-athletes who excel in both categories

Here is just some of the evidence that Patriots and Ivys are anything but the lowest level D1 leagues.

  • The Princeton women’s basketball team is currently ranked 16th in the country
  • Both leagues are ranked comfortably in the middle of D1.
    • In basketball there are currently 15 leagues ranked lower than either the Ivy or Patriot. Those leagues include many perceived to be “better” such as the MAAC, Colonial, Conference USA, Northeast and Ohio Valley.
  • Both leagues have won more NCAA basketball tournament games than many of the leagues perceived to be at a higher level.
    • In recent years Cornell has played in the Sweet 16, while Bucknell, Lehigh and Harvard have had multiple wins as well
  • NCAA D1 basketball tournament seedings for Patriot and Ivy reflect their true level of play and talent. The leagues are getting a 12 or 13 seed, sometimes higher. That means there are about 10 – 15 leagues getting less respect from the committee.
  • Ivy and Patriot leagues have produced more professional draft picks and players over the last two decades than many of the leagues people perceive to play at a higher level.
    • In 2013 alone the Patriot League had a 1st and 2nd round NBA pick
      • Previous years produced lottery picks such 13 year NBA veteran Adonal Foyle
  • After the 2014 season two all-Ivy players transferred to other leagues. (They were out of Ivy eligibility). Both had multiple offers from big time conferences. One accepted a scholarship to Pitt (ACC), the other to UConn (AAC).

Parents and players are the ones losing out due to this lack of awareness. Too many dismiss these schools without even considering them, when choosing them should be an easy decision. When the facts are known, it’s shocking how many people pass up these educational opportunities without giving it a second thought.




Quote of the Day

We need more minority athletes.


This from a coach and admissions officer at one of the very top prep schools in the world. Ironically, this school has a very high overall percentage of minority students.


Why Do a PG Year When I Already Have Offers?

People regularly ask, often incredulously, why anyone who already has offers would do a post-graduate (PG) year. The better question is, why wouldn’t you?

Asking why is a pretty clear indicator of goals and perspective. All most families can think of is getting a D1 offer. They’ve hardly considered, and have little understanding of, what happens and what it takes to be successful once you’re actually in college and playing a D1 sport.

Survival is a big part of sports at the D1 level. Everyone at that level has talent. Everyone is on a scholarship. Everyone thinks they will play. Not everyone will. Nobody thinks that will be them.

If your goal is just to get the offer, there’s no reason to do a PG year. If you want to maximize your success and get the most out of your college experience, there’s every reason. Here are the main ones:

  • There is virtually no downside to a PG year
  • You will still have all the offers and options you have now, plus five times more
  • You will get higher level offers
    • The additional year makes you a better athlete and gets you better exposure
  • You will have more choices and options, which leads to a better decision
  • You will have a better idea of who you are as a person and an athlete
  • You will be better prepared to live away from home
    • Better handle the reduced supervision and increased freedom
  • You will become a better student
    • This is true for all levels of students, even the best ones
  • You will have an additional year of education and credits
  • You will be much better at recruiting process the second time around.
    • This is one of the most overlooked reasons to PG
      • Most families are fairly clueless the first time they go through the process
      • It’s not a fair fight.
        • Coaches are professionals. If they don’t recruit successfully, they don’t have a job.
  • You will get more out of college and increase chances of success
    • Remember, you only get four years
      • Achieve higher grades in college
      • Achieve more success in your sport
  • You will minimize the risks
    • Lower risk of transfer or bad experience
    • Lower risk of failing out
    • Lower risk of sitting on the bench the first year or two, or never cracking the lineup
  • You will have a much better chance of thriving in college, instead of just surviving

These reasons all pertain to students in general. If you’re young for your grade or a student at risk (ie: a weak student, marginal recruit or received offers based more on potential than current ability), that’s all the more reason.

Why don’t more families take advantage of this opportunity? Lack of awareness, lack of patience, lack of perspective. Some don’t know the opportunity exists. Some are too impatient to get to college. Some don’t see the big picture. Ask yourself this: what is your decision going to look like when you look back a year from now?

If school and sports are really about life preparation, then this truly is an easy decision. A PG year better prepares the student for college and life after college. There’s no question about it.

If you think this is all hypothetical, consider one example. I worked this past year with a young man who said no in the summer before his senior year to the first D1 offer he received. During his senior season many schools came to look at him, some as many as a five times, but no one offered. Finally, late in the season, he received one very low level offer.

When they asked to speak with me about their prep school options, this family of very little means was worried about passing up the one offer they had.  We sat in their living room when they nervously asked me if it was reasonable to think that they might get more offers. They decided they believed in themselves and opted for prep school. Five months later they had over 20 offers. The schools that had watched him five times, and to whom he would have quickly said yes any and every day during the season, now could barely get the family’s attention with their offer. In the end, this athlete ended up jumping all the way to high level D1 and a top 25 program.

Having offers gives you leverage. Use it. A PG year reduces variables and risks. You only get four years of college. A PG year is the best way to maximize those years.