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.