D3 vs PG?

Many parents and coaches, especially those at the D3 level, think a post-graduate year is a waste of time and money if the athlete still ends up at the D3 level after the PG year. On the surface, it can look that way, but only if one mistakenly uses a D1 scholarship as the only measure of success. There’s a value opportunity most parents and coaches miss. A PG year is really an investment with minimal risk. At the right price, it’s a very good risk. Here are the benefits achieved, even if a D1 scholarship is not.


Return On Investment

  1. Better education
    1. The student is likely to be accepted at D3 schools with higher academic ranking
  2. Lower college cost
    1. The family is likely to get a better financial aid package at D3 schools
      1. $8,000 per year in savings results in an average net prep school cost of $0, while getting all the other PG year benefits, including college credits
  3. Better preparation for college
    1. The child will be academically more prepared
    2. The child will be athletically more prepared
    3. The child will be emotionally more prepared and more mature
    4. A PG year gives a student a much better chance to thrive in college, not just survive
  4. A years worth of college credits?
    1. College level courses taken as a PG can translate into college credits
      1. Students can graduate sooner from college thereby saving cost
        1. The cost of prep school courses can be less than college
      2. Students can take graduate level courses in their fourth year of college
      3. More and more students are taking more than 4 years to graduate from college anyway

Investment Amount

The value is clearly there for a PG year at the right price. So, what is the right price? The rule of thumb is to spend what one year of college would cost. Spending less than that should be a no-brainer. Spending more makes it a much tougher/poorer decision.


The PG year provides all the benefits above, while keeping alive the chance for a D1 or D2 scholarship, and the four free years of education that go with it. Under the proper circumstances, this is an excellent decision.




Today’s Quiz – NCAA Core-Courses

Today’s quiz involves core-courses required by the NCAA to be a qualifier at the D1 or D2 level. This is a multi-part quiz.


Part 1a

Question:     What is the maximum number of core-courses the NCAA allows a prep school post-graduate student to get credit for towards D1 eligibility?



Answer:     1


Part 1b

Question:     What is the maximum number of core-courses the NCAA allows a prep school post-graduate student with a documented learning issue (LD, IEP etc.) to get credit for towards D1 eligibility?



Answer:     3


Part 2

Question:     What is the maximum number of core-courses the NCAA allows a prep school post-graduate student to get credit for towards D2 eligibility?



Answer:     Unlimited



Question:     How may times does the NCAA allow a student take the SAT or ACT in order to raise his/her score as a post-graduate?

Question:     What’s the maximum number of points the NCAA will allow a student to raise his/her SAT or ACT score as a post-graduate?



Answer:     There is no limit to the number of times a post-graduate student can take the SAT or ACT or the number of points a student can raise his/her score.




Should Your Future College Coach Pick Your Prep School?

Some athletes have already committed to a college when they decide to switch from high school to prep school. When their future college coach recommends a prep school or two, the natural reaction of the athlete is to accept the recommendation on faith. After all, if the athlete and family are willing to trust the next four or five years of the athlete’s life to the college coach, why wouldn’t they trust the prep school recommendation of that coach? This is a tough situation for the athlete and family. Here’s why.

Most college coaches don’t know that much about prep schools. Though they almost always know more than the families, that’s not saying much. Many know enough to be dangerous, but not enough to offer well thought out, objective guidance. Their awareness is limited to a relatively small number of prep schools and doesn’t include enough about the non-athletic parts of the schools. These statements are not made arbitrarily. College coaches have called Prep School Sports Connection for decades asking for insight, help and information regarding prep schools, and we have listened to them and studied at length what they know and don’t know, even those who don’t call me for help.

College coaches are looking out for themselves first. While you may trust them and think they’re great (and they usually are), don’t think there aren’t times when they’re going to do what’s best for themselves. This is one of them. They are most likely going to pick a prep school for two reasons. One, they want the athlete at a school where the chances are smallest that the athlete will get recruited away from them by another college before the athlete actually signs and matriculates at their school. That means a prep school situation and coach who will protect the college coach’s interests by shielding the athlete from possible recruiters from other colleges. Many families would respond that by saying it doesn’t matter as they’ve already made their college choice and it’s not going to change. They would be missing the point. There’s a risk, and the coaches know it better than you. They do this for a living. Most families have never been through this before. As much as the coaches like you and want to help you, they want to protect their interest more. So they pick a prep school that minimizes their risk, not one that maximizes opportunity or provides the athlete the best overall fit for this very important year or more of personal development. By the way, many families would be surprised at the number of athletes who change their mind and choose a different college. Why do you think the coaches are nervous? Prep school opens up options and thinking. It’s a big world. If you’re used to a local school, prep school is a real eye-opener for most families. If you don’t keep your options open, you’re cheating yourself out of a significant benefit of prep school. Why would you do that when you don’t have to? The second reason college coaches pick certain prep schools is that they like the prep school coach and want to help the coach out. Perhaps they have worked together in the past, are friends or were college teammates. While this could benefit the athlete, it generally does not put the athlete’s interests first.

Here’s a recent example. Allison O’Connor is a very talented athlete and student. When her father took a new job in a different state, she attended a highly regarded parochial school for one year. A very bad and emotionally trying experience there prompted the family to decide that she should attend prep school. After the year they’ve had, the family has made it clear that they don’t want to go through something like that again. They have to get it right this time, especially since the girl will be 900 miles from home. She will be entering her senior year and has already committed to an Ivy League (D1) school, turning down scholarship offers in the process. Any prep school would be thrilled to have her based on those factors alone, but she also happens to be full-pay (the family can easily write the check for the $55,000 for prep school), making her the student-athlete every prep school looks and fights for. Her college coach recommended just one prep school and it meets none of the criteria the family and I agreed to use for the school search. Specifically, the academic level of the school is significantly below the level that best supports the student, the school has no history of producing Ivy or other D1 players, the overall level of the sport and league is nothing special, the campus is below average, the geographic location is not good, and the endowment is relatively small, and the type of students the athlete would be around are not the type this child is looking for. In short, the overall environment is not a match, and there’s no objective reason for this to be on the list of possible prep schools for this student-athlete’s consideration.

Certainly there are times when taking the coach’s recommendation makes the most sense. Perhaps the prep school uses the same system, philosophy or training methods as the college coach. Maybe it’s physically located very close to the future college, allowing both athlete and coach great opportunity for interaction that will provide a big head start on their four years together. (The Hun School of Princeton and Princeton University being perhaps as good an example as there is).

There can also be other factors. For example, the athlete may be worried about offending the college coach by not taking the prep school recommendation. This could send the wrong message and no one wants to start off on the wrong foot. A simple conversation will usually relieve this situation quite easily.

As always, the choice of the best prep school should be one based on what’s best for the child and the child’s overall development, not simply on a sport. The process of picking a school should be one that minimizes risks while maximizing the possibility for success. In the reality of today’s world, where no one has enough time, most families will accept the college coach’s recommendation. Many don’t have time to go through the process the right way. Smart families will not put all their eggs in one basket. Instead, they will explore some schools in addition to those recommended by the college coach.




Don’t Laugh Too Hard

While this will certainly be funny to many, it’s just one example of mistakes commonly made by families trying to navigate the recruiting process. So enjoy the laugh, but don’t think others aren’t laughing at similar things you’ve done.

Devin is a talented basketball player. He and his mother recently told me and others he was being recruited by a good mid-level D1 school. Skeptical, I asked them to define the recruitment. They showed me an email inviting them to a reception for prospective students to be held at an upcoming basketball game at that university. What they didn’t understand, as they interpreted this invitation from their subjective point of view, was that the invitation was a mass mailing sent to many prospective students by that university in a general marketing attempt to increase applications and enrollment. It had nothing at all to do with his basketball talent or any basketball recruiting. The reception just happened to be at a basketball game because it was that time of year and basketball is the high profile sport at this particular university. They didn’t know that. They thought it meant he was being recruited for basketball. Most would have instantly seen that this was a mass emailing. In Devin’s defense, he is talented enough to get some D1 basketball interest. This just goes to show recruiting is a tough thing for most families to interpret. So remember, don’t laugh too hard. This might already be you, and you just don’t know it.