How Do I Guide My Daughter?

<p>My daughter is doing well enough in her sport that she's being contacted by some DIII schools (she's a rising junior.) The problem is she's been so focused on DI schools that she won't consider the DIII's (one of which is a highly selective school and academically a great match for her, IMO.) DH, who went to school on a sports scholarship, told her to keep her options open by replying to this coach in particular. I'm new to this so I've been paying more attention to her academics. She's #3 in her class right now and on track to stay a top scholar w/APs and honors classes. There should be a good way to combine her academic ability with her sports! </p>

<p>I know it will ultimately be her choice but our goal is to guide her so that she HAS choices in the end! Have any of you experienced this? I know much of this is due to her lack of information and I'd like her to do her own research on these schools.</p>

<p>If you have not done so already, I would start by speaking to her HS or club coaches about what level of collegiate play they believe she is suited for, based on her physical stature and personal stats. </p>

<p>From there, you can select a broad range of schools that would match her academic and athletic abilities - and personal preference. That list will assuredly change over the course of the next 18 months or so... as her personal performance and exposure both reveals new opportunities, and eliminates others. The right fit (DI - DIII) will likely evidence itself to her during that time. Good luck... and have fun figuring out all her options.</p>

<p>Thanks Mary. I should add that we have initiated the contact with these schools by filling out general questionnaires I feel it hasn't reached the level of "recruiting" yet. Still, in this sport, it is important to get on the coaches radar early.</p>

<p>We will talk to her instructor and the HS coach soon. In the meantime, I'm trying to get D to just make a general list of schools she'd like to see - w/or w/o her sport!</p>

<p>Don't know how much perspective I can give you. Last year, when my daughter was a rising junior, we toured more colleges than I dare repeat (more than 20!) - about half of them had nothing to do with her sport other than club teams (just in case she got injured, etc.), and the rest were a mix of D1 and DIII. She was already sure she wanted to participate at the D1 level and to have the coach support that could go along with that. However, there are SO many awesome Div. III schools out there that I really wanted her to have a broader view. So many of them have the combination of outstanding academics mixed with great athletic teams. Ultimately, she did include 2 Div. III schools in her list of schools she was interested in. One would be a long shot for anyone academically & athletically, and one was what would have been considered a "likely" with or without her sport. At the end of the day, this winter it was her coach who told her that she would not ultimately be well placed at the Div. III level - she would be frustrated, etc. In fact, the coach half-jokingly (well, not really joking actually.....!) "forbade" her to go Div. III due to the fact that my daughter has National Team aspirations. However, this is NOT to say you couldn't join a National Team program from a Div. III college - I know NOTHING about any of that!!
However, every situation is unique of course, and it is really up to the schedule and demands that your daughter feels comfortable with. Div. III is just another great choice, & that sport could be just as significant to the player/individual as it is to someone who chose to go the D1 route. Just a different experience, that is all.</p>

<p>mayhew, D is experiencing similar responses from her personal coach. He is really pushing the D1 schools but I can see where he's coming from. Totally from the "sport first" point of view. I am coming from the academics first point of view. Before D "fell in love" with her sport, she was looking at selective schools and considering her sport as a hook. Now, it seems to be the other way around.<br>
I respect that, but knowing what my DH went through with his college/sports experience (he passed up looks from the ivies where he was most likely a better fit - academically and athletically) and went to an OOS state school. He attributes this to a lack of information. This current situation w/D is bringing up feelings of "what ifs" that he didn't realize he had. And yes, we know that it's D's decision but we feel strongly that it should be a well-informed one.</p>

<p>lilmom: As much as my daughter is in love (actually, "obsessed" is more the word that comes to mind!) with her sport, she is equally intent on being a student-athlete, not athlete-student. A couple of programs who had been pursuing her are off of her list now, so to speak, due to the very clear athlete-student angle shown to us during visits. At least these coaches were very honest about the way they run, and view, their programs! That will be a great fit for many people, but not for my daughter, she decided. Ultimately, we have found there are several student-athlete schools that are both Div. 1 (in the top tier of the nation in this sport) and also in the very top tier of academics. This is the path which we are walking at this time, in the hopes of mixing excellent academics with the D1 experience my daughter so very much wants. There are many choices out there. The Ivies and their many peers offer great D1/academic opportunities - with the student/athlete bend. My daughter is bright, a leader, etc. but her sport is definitely her hook - otherwise she is just one more bright girl with lots of qualifications, hoping to go to a great school. There are all sorts of approaches to D1 athletics we have found, and if your daughter really wants D1 athletics and is a strong student too, then she can certainly have that mix. Just like she could have DIII athletics and an excellent education too.</p>

<p>lilmom, Obviously I don't know your D's sport or her level of proficiency but I would throw out these thoughts that helped my kid through the decision of D1 vs D3. Assuming she is not at elite level would she rather be a role player on D1 program or an important contributor at a D3 school. Does she understand the difference in the level of commitment required? She might benefit from speaking with girls from her HS team that have graduated and are now in D1 programs. I know this opened my D's eyes.</p>

<p>One other thought, and this is not so much to do with athletics as with the nature of 16 year old girls. I've walked two through the college selection process, and my conclusion is it's a highly emotional and high-stakes ordeal for them. I don't presume to know your daughter, but just let me say that at various and often inconvenient times during the college matching process, the girls would disengage, cry, accuse me of trying to control them, and basically shut down on discussing college at all. </p>

<p>I finally came to understand that this was very stressful for them, and a decision they felt was one of the most important they would ever make. They both worried about making a "wrong" choice. Sometimes this lead them to paralysis, sometimes to elation. Eventually, and not in any linear fashion, both girls made very good decisions. The most important thing they finally realized was that I wasn't trying to control them, but to help, and that I am the most motivated person on Earth to see that they have every chance to figure this out and make the best match. </p>

<p>In both cases, junior year was the hardest- I don't think they came to trust that I might actually have valuable information until summer prior to senior year. Still, I had to tread lightly, zip my lip a lot, and let them guide the process more and more as they gained the courage and knowledge to trust their own judgement. </p>

<p>So, OP, I guess my thought for you is, this may not be about DIII verses DI as much as your daughter making sure you understand she has strong feelings about how this works out. Be very patient, and you may find that she informs YOU about some amazing DIII programs, especially if she attends some camps or is around other kids who have made that choice and are happy.</p>

<p>Best wishes!</p>

<p>Thankstojack, good points. She's not at an elite level - which I feel makes it more confusing with the college matching! I'm sure she would want to be an active contributor to the team. She'll have to "ask the right questions" about that.<br>
Mayhew, my D sounds a lot like yours academically. She is also the captain of her team as well as a leader in various school organizations. I will be very interested in hearing about your D's college search experience!
riverrunner, as always, you have great advice. I haven't thought about the 16 yr old mind of a girl. It's comforting to know that we're not the only one going through this!!!</p>

<p>Our D signed to swim at a mid-major D1 school next fall. We took the following approach:</p>

<p>1) Identify the pool of schools that wold be an academic fit. Her list included top tier LAC's (think NESCAC, etc.), midwestern state universities with excellent honors programs and everything in between.</p>

<p>2) Identify the NCAA conferences that would be an athletic fit. This took more homework because she was looking for placement in a conference where she could be top 16 right away.</p>

<p>3) See where the 2 groups overlap. Look at other schools in overlap conferences and at conferences with overlap schools. There will be quite a few new schools that come to your attention.</p>

<p>4) Get her on recruiting websites. This was the best conduit for coaches to find our D and for her to introduce herself to coaches.</p>

<p>5) Keep an open mind. D ended up signing with a school that came up in process #3 above. She and the coach clicked, she LOVED the school once she visited, and has been awarded both academic and athletic scholarships (more than she ever dreamed). </p>

<p>6) Be realistic about your scholarship expectations. We told our D to expect nothing, but to hope for the chance to continue in a sport she loves at a school she loves. She was fortunate to do just that.</p>

<p>7) Her HS and club coaches were far less connected and less knowledgeable about colleges and fit than we had expected. Most of the work finding schools fell on our family.</p>

<p>Remember, coaches are looking for athletes who can be successful in the classroom as well. These kids will probably not be continuing on in their sport after college, so making sure the academic fit is right is sooooo important.</p>