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Kids' Extracurricular Activities Are Burying Parents Under A Mountain Of Debt

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Replies to: Kids' Extracurricular Activities Are Burying Parents Under A Mountain Of Debt

  • PurpleTitanPurpleTitan Registered User Posts: 12,600 Senior Member
    @Undercrackers, college female gymnastics is a headcount sport, which means that if she has a gymnastics scholarship (and if she is competing at a DivI school, she almost certainly does), she is getting a full-ride.

    I have a hunch they consider it all worth it.
  • gpo613gpo613 Registered User Posts: 264 Junior Member
    Since we are discussing sports plenty in this thread I will give you my view point.

    First, almost no one who plays a sport in college will get paid for that activity after college. If you add up all the college athletes and do the math I am sure it is a small small and even smaller percentage of kids getting paid for a sports career.

    I will agree that sports can be a way to get some or all of college paid for. Remember many sports don't give full-rides. They just don't have the number of scholarships. Let's say you do get a scholarship 50% of COA or more. That is great. The positives is early enrollment usually. Free tutoring usually, sometimes required. And of course you are getting part of your COA paid for. And you usually are doing something you like to do and it can be fun. All that sounds great and hopefully your parents are willing to pay for the extra lessons or coaching you need as a child to get you there.

    Here are some of the negatives. You now have a job at school. Yes it can be a fun job but none the less it is a job. You have to show up x number of hours a semester to keep your scholarship. Oftentimes these hours are early morning at least a few times a week. (Parents love that as you can't go party). Depending on the sport you might not be on campus when you have a test or a class. Away games suck. You probably will have to do some homework on a bus. You better hope your teammates become good friends of yours because if they are not then you don't have much time for other people. Hopefully your coach isn't a jerk. If he/she is then you have to take whatever they send your way for 4 years. They own you. Hopefully your sports schedule allows you to major in what you want to. Those STEM labs can get in the way. Hopefully you don't get hurt and possibly lose your scholarship. That coach you loved may leave.

    Basically I would never tell a kid they couldn't play sports in college with a scholarship, but I would be sure they totally understand what they are signing up for. And before you say well they know because they played in HS just know colleges are littered with kids that messed up their future.

    At the end of the day I would rather make sure my kid had high stats rather than a great curveball.
  • 4kids4us4kids4us Registered User Posts: 529 Member
    I have heard a lot of talk on line and elsewhere that "colleges love multi-sport athletes," I don't see the proof of that. Gone are the days that there are the football/basketball/baseball varsity jocks -- playing something year round and dominating the school culture. That is probably because of supply and demand. Colleges want the tried and true one-sport kid. So parents invest in the one sport, and kids specialize starting at around 8 years old. The upside, if there is one, is that more kids overall will be playing sports in high school. Just few kids play more than one.

    That has not been my experience where I live. Nearly every single recruited athlete in my son’s h.s. plays multiple sports. There are nine seniors on S19’s high school lacrosse team going to play D1 lacrosse -all but one play at least two sports. A few, including my son, play 3 sports. And that’s pretty typical -his class isn’t unusual, it’s like that every year. My younger son goes to a different h.s. about twice the size. I don’t know as much about the recruited athletes as they are older, but in S21’s carpool of five boys, four of the five play three sports. Two are hoping to be recruited -one for soccer and the other for wrestling. Since most of S19’s friends play lacrosse, that’s where my anecdotal experience comes from and we’ve often heard that lax coaches love kids who also play basketball, and even football. S19 has a friends at several other high schools who play both football and lacrosse. One was “recruited” to his private h.s. for football, a sport he planned to play in college. Instead, he’s going to play D1 lacrosse at a top 5 ranked school. If you ever watch a college lacrosse game, you will often hear the announcers talk about the other sports the kids played in h.s. and how it impacted them athletically as well as helped develop their sports IQ. The athletes we know who play only one sport year round are typically soccer players. The kid in our carpool is a year round soccer player but started running indoor and outdoor track as a sophomore but prior to that he was a single sport/soccer only athlete.

    All that said, I live in an area that has a ridiculous focus on athletics. Kids do play at least one sport year round, but they also play other sports in the “off season”of their main sport. However, what that means for girls is, if they are playing club lax year round, in the fall they might also play either rec field hockey or soccer. Or if they play club soccer year round, they also play rec lax in the spring. Both of my girls always played three sports (soccer, basketball and lax) but they are both just rec athletes. But whoa, when I see the schedules of D23’s classmates, I cringe. They are way way busier than my boys ever were at the same age but I’ve seen the hyper focus on club sports increase exponentially in the younger kids even though they are only a few years behind my boys. Many of D23’s female classmates actually play two club sports. I can’t even imagine how much money they are spending.
  • mountainsoulmountainsoul Registered User Posts: 31 Junior Member
    ^^^This is the same at D's high school. Kids are still playing multiple sports. There are a lot of football players on the basketball team and many lax girls play hockey and/or basketball. Lots of kids run cross country in the fall then do track and field in the spring too. I really believe being a multisport athlete benefited D during the college application process because she was able to show leadership in two varsity sports plus her club sport.

    Another pricey EC is dance. I was never a dance mom but knew plenty of them. Costumes, studio tuition, travel—it's adds up fast!
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 21,424 Senior Member
    and she is competing at a D-I school now. I could not tell you if it is on scholarship or not (my guess is yes)

    D1 women's gymnastics is a head count sport, so she most likely is on a full scholarship. If she's at a Power 5 school, she most likely receives tuition, books, fees, room, board - and a stipend!
  • Twoin18Twoin18 Registered User Posts: 1,285 Senior Member
    "Curious if there are people who have spent a lot on the latter but would balk at the cost of an expensive private."

    As I mentioned earlier in the thread, we spent a lot (high five figures in all) on dance, but we weren't willing to pay $300K per kid for college. We felt there was a difference between college, where we gave the kids the same budget (and didn't feel it was necessary to spend significantly more than the instate cost for our great public universities in CA, especially with three kids) and elementary/high school, where we did what was best for their education without explicitly trying to spend equal amounts.

    But after the age of 18 they have a 529 (with equal amounts contributed but the younger one has more growth than the older kids) and an annual allowance for college expenses for four years and it's up to them to decide where to go. If they got a scholarship then they get to use the money for other things (grad school, house downpayment, etc).
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 21,424 Senior Member
    My daughter was one of the only kids on her college lax team who didn't have hs varsity letters from two or three sports. She had teammates playing two sports (soccer and lax).
    Here are some of the negatives. You now have a job at school. Yes it can be a fun job but none the less it is a job. You have to show up x number of hours a semester to keep your scholarship. Oftentimes these hours are early morning at least a few times a week. (Parents love that as you can't go party). Depending on the sport you might not be on campus when you have a test or a class. Away games suck. You probably will have to do some homework on a bus. You better hope your teammates become good friends of yours because if they are not then you don't have much time for other people. Hopefully your coach isn't a jerk. If he/she is then you have to take whatever they send your way for 4 years. They own you. Hopefully your sports schedule allows you to major in what you want to. Those STEM labs can get in the way. Hopefully you don't get hurt and possibly lose your scholarship. That coach you loved may leave.

    My daughter experiences ALL these (except getting hurt), but I wouldn't call them negatives. She didn't like her coach, but the coach didn't own her. She did get to major in what she wanted (labs included), got to join a sorority even though the coach didn't like it, didn't love all her teammates but tolerated them. She didn't have many away games but had fun at a lot of them. NCAA protects scholarships for injured athletes and they don't lose them. It was a job to us, and a pretty high paying one if you break down the scholarships into $$ per hour.

  • CateCAParentCateCAParent Registered User Posts: 71 Junior Member
    So all hope is not lost for the multi-sport kids! That's great!

    I have a kid who loves playing a lot of different sports -- technically he is a 4-sport athlete. But he never has wanted to do club-level anything -- despite being good enough. I was always the one pushing him to do club sports (my thinking is that if he went to the big local high school he possibly wouldn't make a couple of the teams), and he was the rational one saying he didn't want the pressure of travelling to tournaments all the time. He is now at a small private school, so he gets to play something every season. In that sense, I see us paying for EC sports in a different way than a club experience- by paying for the school instead of the sport. He gets to play for fun, but I had to "let go of the dream" of college recruitment. My dream, that is, not his. :smile:

    I still worry about the injuries. The stats on youth knee injuries are pretty alarming. And don't get me started on concussions.
  • itsgettingreal17itsgettingreal17 Registered User Posts: 3,710 Senior Member
    @CateCAParent I spent a small fortune on ECs over the years for my only child, but it was never with an eye towards a college scholarship. In fact, I was the parent cautioning the other parents that betting on an athletic scholarship was not a good bet. I also was not willing, as a full pay parent, to spend $80k a year on an undergrad degree. I know many parents who think like I do. If you can afford it, there’s nothing wrong with spending money on ECs, even a lot. Spending a lot on ECs doesn’t mean you should also spend $80k/yr on undergrad.
  • Bromfield2Bromfield2 Registered User Posts: 3,507 Senior Member
    We spent a fair amount on an EC for one of my kids--not because she'd be a recruited athlete but because she truly loved what she was doing. Her sport was a club sport, which wasn't offered at any college. She did really well and was on a national team for several years. Unlike many of the kids on the national team, she was one of the few who was not homeschooled. H and I felt that school was more important than the sport. D retired from the sport when she went to college; eventually she took judge's training courses and became a judge (which she still does in her spare time). Being on the national team probably helped her get into a selective university (Tufts), but it wasn't a slam dunk--others equally as selective rejected her. I wouldn't put money into an EC unless my kids really enjoyed it and wanted to participate.
  • CateCAParentCateCAParent Registered User Posts: 71 Junior Member
    edited May 11
    @Bromfield2 - Just as an aside- I love to read about kids who do obscure things at a high level, without me knowing what it is. I completely understand the need for anonymity. But my mind goes wild filling in the blank on the mystery activity: superhero training? Competitive ceramics? Bowling?

    What awesome opportunities are out there that I have no idea about and how did these kids find their uncommon niche? I admire the path less taken.

    I realize your kid is probably not in an obscure sport, I have some guesses what it might be, too. Still. The path less travelled and the parental commitment is something to be respected.
  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk Registered User Posts: 2,152 Senior Member
    "I have heard a lot of talk on line and elsewhere that "colleges love multi-sport athletes," I don't see the proof of that. Gone are the days that there are the football/basketball/baseball varsity jocks -- playing something year round and dominating the school culture."

    Interesting point, it would depend on your definition of multi- is it 2 or more than 2, because I agree that club sports has reduced the number of recruitable players in more than 2 sports, however there are still a lot of athletes that can play two sports, especially if one is club, the other rec or high school. Our hs started mens hockey when I was there, and was basically it was the football team that made up the first roster, that wouldn't happen today as you have kids focusing on hockey at an early age, maybe 6 or 7 and they would make the hs team.

  • GKUnionGKUnion Registered User Posts: 45 Junior Member
    The debt families go into for ECs aren’t necessarily measured monetarily.

    The time and energy we spend on S22’s sport is a true commitment...a labor of love. His year round schedule makes vacation planning difficult. We’re in the car a lot. He’s on buses and in hotels a lot. I dropped him off to the team bus yesterday morning and 7 hours later they were at their hotel. I actually have a free weekend...until I need to pick him up at 11:30 pm tonight.

    We spent a fair amount of money on S18’s interests. Scholarships were never a consideration.

    We continue to spend a lot on club soccer for S22. Will he earn a scholarship? I highly doubt it. Would he be as happy without the competition, training and teammates? I highly doubt it.
  • NEPatsGirlNEPatsGirl Registered User Posts: 2,949 Senior Member
    I haven't read the whole thread but I'm against the over-scheduling of young kids and believe they need free time to develop their imaginations, learn how to play with others without adult interference, and learn how to be "alone" but not lonely. Because of this mindset, my kids were only allowed one activity each semester/year and, once they started it, they were not allowed to quit. Their second activity choice was between Sunday School or scouting. This left them plenty of time to shoot hoops in the driveway, ride bikes to the reservoir to fish or go to the playground, etc., not to mention dinners together most nights, which I feel is very important. Academics were first in my house, then activities/sports. My D tried figure skating, watercolor art classes, ballet and hip hop, and a few other things but scouting turned out to be her favorite (she earned her Gold Award). Son played baseball from age 5 and added football at age 13. He also did some diving at the local YMCA and some boxing lessons. Plenty of ECs, but not so many that it interrupted our family life or their academics.
  • blossomblossom Registered User Posts: 9,509 Senior Member
    So much of this depends on the family's circumstances and geography.

    My kids did nothing extra curricular until HS. Well meaning friends were appalled ("how are they going to get into college?"), but I worked full time, spouse traveled close to full time, driving around town at 4 pm for sports or piano lessons or whatnot was just not feasible. The kids had MANY interests- became avid readers, were the kids playing in the backyard even when the other kids in the neighborhood were off at karate. We had a couple of incredible childcare/babysitters who made up games, did crafts with them, and others who were kind and loving and responsible but were focused on putting dinner on the table and feeding the kids. I was happy with kind and loving and responsible.

    Some people live in neighborhoods where a 7th grader can walk to the public library and others don't. Some people live in a neighborhood where an 8th grader can walk to a corner store for ice cream after school and then play in a park for an hour before heading home- and others don't.

    I see the mania for expensive EC's for little kids and I can't relate- it wasn't part of our childrearing, but that doesn't mean it's a bad thing. Wouldn't have worked for us- I wasn't prepared to sacrifice my own career so I could leave work at 3 pm every day to take a 7 year old to a private tennis coach. I have co-workers who did- sometimes it was a good thing (talented kid who loved tennis) and sometimes it was a terrible thing (kid hated tennis, parent's career stalled just when they really needed more money, kid ends up in therapy as a teenager to find out why nobody ever listens to what HE wants).

    Like everything else- YMMV. I do not regret the life's choices that made being full pay possible, and thankfully my kids ended up being interesting and engaged and talented adults despite not having been on a soccer team.
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