PG Injury Concern

Many considering a PG year believe that the risk of significant injury is a major argument against a PG year. That’s understandable, especially for those who hold full scholarship offers. Injuries get everyone’s attention. They’re very visceral, and that makes them hard to ignore, but there are two reasons to do just that. Here’s why injury concern should not be a significant factor when deciding on a PG year.

 

1)  Injuries are not the problem they used to be.

  • Medical science has changed.  It’s not like it was when today’s parents were kids. The days of career ending injuries are mostly over. Even a blown-out knee is no longer career ending. Athletes have surgery and are back on the field sooner and sooner. Consequently, college coaches are not scared off by that type of thing like they might have been in the past.
  • Prep schools can overcome significant injuries. The right prep school has the clout and the right coach has the recruiting experience and connections to get scholarships for kids who miss all or most of an entire season.

Two years ago Andy had no offers out of high school. He went to a prep school with a very good program but missed the entire season due to injury. Nonetheless, he ended up receiving a full ride to a good D2 school that also offered a much better education than he would have otherwise received. While not his D1 dream, that’s still more than he had out of high school. Some years before Andy, Harry was in a similar situation. He, too, had no offers out of high school. He played the first two games of the year before stepping on someone’s foot and spending the next two months in a cast. He still had his choice of three mid-level D1 offers.

Part of the reason these players were able to overcome their injuries is that a PG year offers more than just another school season. It also offers another summer recruiting period. Like it or not, these days that’s just as important. By playing well in the summer before they ever got to school they helped insure they would get the offers they so badly wanted.

2)  There are other risks, with a much greater chance of happening, that need to be managed, but are being ignored. These are what should influence the thinking of families.

  • Transfers are a virtual epidemic these days. A shocking percentage of kids are not finishing at the school they started at. Despite the spin you hear on it, that’s not good. Nobody commits to a school with the expectation of transferring (except those hoping to transfer up. That’s a whole different mistake for another blog.). The right PG decision reduces this possibility.
  • Not getting playing time. This has always been part of the equation, and it always will be. A certain percentage of kids will always sit. It’s the nature of a competitive team. Some will never play. Some will play after a year or two. A PG year reduces the chance of both options significantly.
  • Some athletes will fail or struggle academically in school. People think this applies only to students who were weak students when they entered college, but it also happens to good students, especially those attending the elite educational universities. People don’t understand the time and commitment demands of scholarship level sports. Consequently they fail to anticipate the strain that puts on classwork. There is no such thing as too much preparation, even for the very best students. A PG year provides that preparation.

The concern of injury is a little like those who are afraid of flying. While the statistics say flying is much safer than other methods of travel, some people simply can’t get the fear of flying out of their minds. Fight the urge to let to let fear of injury make your decision about a PG year. It’s a bad thought process.

There are no guarantees in this world, although it’s human nature to want them. If you’re starting with the thought that any scenario, such as having an offer in hand, means you’ve got a guarantee, you’re starting from the wrong perspective. Families need to understand this and act accordingly.

It would be unfair to say there’s no injury risk in a PG year. There is, but it’s not the risk most think it is, the chances are too small to pay attention to, and there are other risks that you’re not addressing that should be of greater concern. These are what should dictate your decision.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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Quote of the Day – Two Years for Less Than the Cost of One

 

We got two years of prep school for less than one PG year was going to cost.

 

This from parents whose child was planning on a post-graduate year, but immediately changed his mind after visiting his first prep school and decided to go for his junior year instead.

 

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Financial Aid Discovery

In November of their daughter’s senior year, the Powell’s weren’t sure about choosing prep school or college. They decided they wanted both options, so they pursued both and postponed the final decision until later.

As they applied to both colleges and prep schools, and started to negotiate financial aid with both, they discovered something they hadn’t expected. Worried the Powell’s would opt for prep school, colleges that were seriously recruiting their daughter offered them more financial aid to try to convince them to choose college. Just the option of seriously exploring prep school provided them financial leverage that was worth about $5,000 per year. While it’s not new for colleges to negotiate financial aid when competing with other colleges, competing with prep school is a different variable, and because it is it gave the Powell’s a different kind of leverage they hadn’t expected.

In the end, they chose college after getting an offer that was too good to pass up. Since they had opted for college, the Powell’s initially felt they had wasted the money spent on getting help with the prep school process. After some reflection, they came to the realization that it was a very smart move. They saved almost ten times what they invested by simply exploring the prep school option.

 

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Should Your College Coach Pick Your Prep School?

Sometimes 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.

  1. Most college coaches don’t know that much about prep schools
    1. Just because they know more than the families, doesn’t mean they know enough to offer complete, big-picture, objective advice
      1. Their knowledge of schools is limited to a relatively small number of schools
      2. Their knowledge of the aspects of the schools outside of the sport is limited
  2. Sometimes college coaches are looking out for themselves first. This is one of those times.
    1. They want the athlete at a school where the chances are smallest that the athlete will get recruited away by another college before the athlete actually signs and matriculates.
    2. They like the prep school coach and want to help the coach out.

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 a year’s worth of interaction that will provide an excellent head-start on their four years together. (The Hun School of Princeton and Princeton University are probably the best example of this).

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.

 

For a more in-depth version of this blog, including a detailed example, click on this link.

http://prepschoolsportsconnection.com/should-your-future-college-coach-pick-your-prep-school-2/

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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You’re Proving My Point, Not Yours

 

 

We don’t need help finding a prep school. We can find a school ourselves.

 

If you’re making this statement, you’re asking yourself the wrong question. The question isn’t can you find a prep school without help. Many families can find a school on their own. If you don’t care where you end up, any road will get you there. The question is can you find the best one for reaching your goals, the one that will maximize the investment of time and money you are making in prep school. If you’re not asking the right question, or don’t have the right goal, why is there any reason to believe you will be successful doing it yourself?

 

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