Quote of the Day: The Prep School Recruiting Difference

I’m not sure where I’d be without (prep school). (Mine) offered me what no other school in the country could offer: great academics, great football, great culture and great recruitment.


This from a football player who had just signed with Clemson, talking about his decision to leave a top parochial school for prep school.

Before attending prep school, he was getting FCS recruitment. Within three months of his transfer he had his choice of offers from the best FBS schools in the country.




Stat of the Day: Women’s Basketball Transfers

The transfer rate for women’s D1 basketball is up 33% over a ten year period.

In 2003 the rate was 6.8%. In 2013 it was 9.2%. Those numbers are still about 1/4 of the men’s numbers. As with many other parts of the game, the women’s game seems to be following the men’s.

Perhaps most interesting is that 6 of the top 10 rated girls in the 2013 recruiting class have transferred. A number of those 6 committed to colleges as sophomores (also similar to the boys) and some say they now realize that what they considered a dream school as high school sophomores is much different than where they want to be playing as 20 year olds. This is a pretty strong case that kids (and parents) are picking a college at too young an age.




Today’s Quiz – Men’s D1 Basketball Transfer %

Question:     What % of all men’s basketball players who enter Division I directly out of high school depart their initial school by the end of their sophomore year?




Answer:     40%

Here’s the link to the complete article on the NCAA website.




The Two Biggest Overlooked Benefits of Prep School

The education and the athletic program are the two things virtually every family focuses on when considering prep school for their student-athlete. Most families can’t even process all the information in those two categories, so it’s no surprise that they overlook two other really big benefits when considering the value of prep school.


1)  Connections

Why do you think some families are readily willing to pay $55,000 for one year of prep school? It isn’t just the great education, or the great athletics. It’s the contacts, the connections. The kids your child is going to meet, the ones who will become lifetime friends, are the ones who are going to be running this country 20 years from now. If you believe it’s as much who you know as what you know, it’s hard to overvalue this benefit.


2)  College is taking more than four years

Many families aren’t sure they want to invest money in prep school, especially since they know they are likely to be spending money on college, money they may not have. Here’s what they fail to account for: college students aren’t finishing college in four years like their parents’ generation did. A remarkably high percentage (approximately 44% overall, and a startling 64% at public institutions) of students are not finishing college in what used to be considered the “normal” time frame.

Closely tied to those statistics is another, even bigger, one: college debt has become arguably the most important financial problem in the US today. A good chunk of that is a result of students taking more than four years to finish, or worse, not finishing at all.

For many students the issue is going to college before they’re ready. Many students, even some with very good transcripts, are now taking a gap year before college for that reason.

Finding yourself in college is tricky. Once you get off track, it’s hard to get back on. Colleges aren’t set up for you to find yourself. They’re set up to weed you out and take your money. Switching majors gets expensive in a hurry.

A post-graduate year is just the opposite. It’s designed to help the student discover more of him or herself. Consequently, it is much more effective and efficient at doing so, leading to a much lower risk.

Once families come to grips with these facts, especially the realization that there’s a good chance they’re likely to spend the additional money anyway, it is much easier to see that money is often much better spent on a PG year than on additional years in college.




PG Year – Wasted Time and Money?

Cameron had a good senior year playing for a low profile high school and received only D3 offers. She and her parents decided to invest their time and money in a post-graduate year, believing she had the potential to get scholarship offers.

By all accounts, Cameron played very well in her PG year. At the end of the season she took two official visits to NCAA D2 schools, but did not receive a scholarship offer from either. She was also offered a preferred walk-on spot at two mid-level D1 schools, one of which she accepted.

Many would look at this situation and say the decision to attend prep school was a bad one, a waste of time and money. While Cameron and her parents certainly had some disappointment, a closer look reveals a very good decision.

  • Cost: This is often a big part of a PG year decision, and understandably so. Cameron’s family invested about $15,000 and got no scholarship to show for it. What they did get is an extra $12,000 per year in college financial aid. That’s what the school they chose offered compared to offers from similar schools that did not recruit her for basketball. That’s a payback of three times what they invested. That alone makes the PG year an easy justification and a great choice.
  • Lower basketball risk: Cameron could have walked-on at a D1 school after HS, but the risks would have been much greater. She would not have been a preferred walk-on, so she might not have even made the team. She’d only have about a week to prove herself. As a preferred walk-on she is virtually assured a spot on the team. She’s also a better player than she was a year ago. The D2 offers are objective proof of that. Those offers prove it’s not unreasonable to think she can play at the D1 level, and possibly earn a scholarship. (It’s hard to overstate the value of that information in today’s sports world, where so many kids and parents struggle to accurately assess the athlete’s talent level). The PG year closed the talent gap, while reducing the risk once she gets there.
  • Lower academic risk: A below average student, by all accounts she needed an extra year to figure out how to get her inherent intelligence to show up in her school work. As it turned out, she did just that. A different learning environment, in addition to being away from home, allowed her to achieve better grades than she did in high school. She’s now better prepared to handle the tougher course work in college. It also boosted her confidence in the classroom, which will increase her chances of success in college.
  • Lower overall risk: Most families don’t understand the time and other demands of playing a sport at the D1 level. Combined with the more difficult classroom work, the athlete’s maturity is tested immediately and often. College has also changed since today’s parents attended. A much larger percentage of students are not graduating, or are taking more than four years to do it. Certainly the financial risks are greater. College debt is arguably the largest financial problem in the country today. Cameron’s transitional year of prep school did exactly what a PG year is supposed to do. It gave her the opportunity to mature as a person while reducing all of these risks.

No, Cameron didn’t get a scholarship – yet, but the PG year was subtly a very good intermediate step towards overall success. It allowed her to keep the dream alive and saved her family over $30,000, while getting all the other educational and maturity benefits and minimizing the risks. They would tell you it was still an excellent choice.




Quote of the Day – Adjusting to College and D1 Sports


Last year it was just difficult with the balancing of school, being in a new city; it was a lot to handle and it’s tough for freshmen to play well in Division I


One of the top golfing recruits in the country talking about struggling to play up to his potential as a college freshman.



Sacrificing Education – One Example

James, a weak student and talented athlete, had two choices at the end of his senior year at catholic high school. One, attend a “football factory” for the fall semester where the level of football and exposure would be high and he would not have to take any classes. Two, accept an offer to attend a prep school where the football level would be lower and he would receive a life-changing education he would not otherwise have had access to without leveraging his athletic talents.

Paying for either option was an overriding factor for this family, whose financial troubles were such that just finding the money for the monthly utility bill was a challenge. The football factory would cost $10,000 – $15,000 for one semester. The prep school option would cost nothing, and would include the whole year, not just a semester. Without giving it a second thought or visiting the prep school, James chose the football factory. His parents, who had initially vetoed any consideration of a football factory, relented, committing to paying the money while admitting to having no idea where they would find it.

As it turned out, at the end of the season at the football factory James was no closer to a D1 scholarship than he had been a year earlier. He had no D1 offers. Instead, he had now been out of the classroom for a semester (it would become a year as he went home for the second semester and essentially did nothing) and his family was now significantly in debt. Had they prioritized education first, at least James would have received a top-shelf education while making friends and connections that would stay with him for life. They sacrificed an education James sorely needed and spent money they didn’t have, and ended up with essentially nothing to show for it.

Ironically, there’s a solid argument to be made that what kept James from receiving a scholarship is exactly what was missing at the football factory and abundant at the prep school. Physical talent was never James’ problem. Maturity, responsibility, discipline, hard work and personal growth were. By definition, those characteristics are all in short supply at sports factories. At the prep school he would have been immersed in them 24 hours a day in the form of his classmates, school faculty and coaches. How ironic that what he needed most to reach his goals was at the place the family didn’t choose, and would have come with the education of a lifetime.



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.



Should I Walk-On or Do a Post-Graduate Year?

In some way, walking-on inspires a sense of security. It allows athletes put their belief in the connection they have with a particular school, even in the absence of a scholarship. I spoke on the phone with a father not long ago about the possibility of his child doing a post-graduate (PG) year instead of walking-on. The father had no awareness or understanding of prep schools and the child had all the earmarks of an excellent PG candidate. The child’s senior season was over and so was the majority of the recruiting for the sport. They had not received any scholarship offers and were planning on walking-on at a local D1 school.

Confidence is a huge part of walking-on. The athlete has to believe in himself/herself even though no scholarship schools believed in the athlete’s talent enough to offer a scholarship. Confidence and optimism are essential, but there’s no need to substitute them for a lack of logic. Many athletes make the confident statement that they’re sure they’ll earn a scholarship as walk-ons. All they need, they insist, is the chance to prove themselves. In fact, those who make that statement aren’t as confident as they think. They are putting too much value in that sense of security inspired by the walk-on situation. Athletes who truly believe in themselves and their talent don’t settle for walking-on. They believe that given the chance at prep school they will earn more and better offers and aren’t willing to restrict themselves to one scholarship chance. Furthermore, if you assume the statement of confidence is true, that the athlete will earn a scholarship after walking-on, it’s all the more reason to go to prep school and not walk-on. Think about it. If the player really is a scholarship level talent, a PG year would have been virtually risk-free and would have yielded many and better options.

Here’s a comparison of the two options.


Walking-On = One Chance

  • Only one chance at a scholarship. If you choose to walk-on, all your eggs are in one basket. There’s only one school looking at you, so you have only one chance at a scholarship. Some say “There’s no risk. I’m sure I’ll earn a scholarship”. The statistics say otherwise.
  • You may not get a scholarship. Then there are three options and none is particularly good. One, keep playing, but pay for all four years. Two, transfer. Three, stop playing the sport you love.
  • May use up a year of eligibility. You only get four. When was the last time you heard an athlete say I wish my career hadn’t been so long or so successful.
  • Cost. Usually about the same as a PG year at prep school


PG Year = Multiple Options

  • Chance at multiple scholarship offers. You will have many schools looking at you. Your odds increase dramatically, so does the chance of finding the right fit. The more choices, the better fit and chance of success.
  • No loss of eligibility. You still have four years of college eligibility after a PG year.
  • An extra year of education. In today’s world, you can’t have too much education. By doing a PG year you get another year in addition to the four college years. That means improved learning skills and probable college level credits. If you do earn a scholarship, the fourth year of it will likely pay for the first year of graduate school.
  • Greater chance of earning playing time early and throughout college career. This is true for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that the average age of college freshman is a lot higher than most people realize.
  • Get to a higher level of play. PGs get recruited at a higher level than high school seniors. If, in fact, you were capable of earning a scholarship as a walk-on that same level of talent would earn you a scholarship at a higher level school after a PG year.
  • No need to transfer. It’s one thing to move on after a PG year. It’s entirely different to transfer after your freshman year of college if you don’t get a scholarship. Yes, a PG year is still a change, but you knew it was going to happen and it’s much less traumatic than transferring from a four year college.
  • Better chance of finding a school that’s the right fit. The more developed you are as a player and person, the better the chances of finding the right fit. In addition, the more school choices you have the better the chance of finding the right fit.
  • Cost. Roughly the same as what a walk-on year of college would cost. Some people will say that if you don’t get a scholarship you’ve added the cost of an extra year to your overall college cost. Not necessarily. First, non-scholarship athletes often end up getting a better financial aid package than they would have before the PG year. That increased financial aid can offset the cost of the PG year. Second, you can take college level courses as a PG, making it effectively the same thing as being a college freshman.


There’s simply no question that a PG year makes more sense than walking-on. In the example above, part of the problem was the family refused to even listen to what prep school has to offer. Be willing to listen before making a decision. You can always say no. Smart people get the facts first.




We’re Already at a Good School Playing Good Ball. Why Switch to Prep School?

I had the prep school conversation recently with a mother who told me they were not interested in prep school because “my child is already getting a very good education, playing good basketball, and it doesn’t cost us anything”. On the surface, who would argue? Here’s what she missed:

  1. A much better education is still available.(even though this mom was right when she said her child is currently getting a very good one. Most parents are not)
    1. Most students near the top of their high school class will be below average students at the right prep school
      1. Those at the top of their class locally, but significantly below that nationally, need a greater challenge
  2. Prep school is a much higher level of sport for her child
    1. The chances of getting the scholarship they seek improves dramatically
    2. The parents are relieved of the pressure of having to mange their child’s recruiting
  3. Room and board is the cost of living at home
    1. That’s about $5,000 this mother didn’t account for.
      1. In this case, it means saving $5,000 per year by sending her child to prep school. That never occurred to her.
        1. That’s $15,000 over three years, while getting a better education and better chance at a scholarship.

There’s no question that this family’s current situation is better than many, if not most. The real question is what are the family’s goals, how serious are they about reaching them and what are they willing to sacrifice to do it? For those in today’s competitive world who understand that not maximizing a child’s potential means missing an opportunity while falling behind the competition, the choice is prep school.