Trying again. A vent. Sports vs. academics at US colleges

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by MidwestMom, Feb 4, 2013.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I am very frustrated about this. Jumper is a great athlete. She is a hardworking student who has a C* average and will get through college if s he wants to, but at a slower pace and with help. We want her to start at a two year college so that she can get used to college life and not be overly stressed out. She picked out a lovely two year college where she can play basketball, go into a pre-Social Worker course called Human Services, and have a good time too, as all young adults want. There is a big four year school where she knows a lot of kids just four blocks away too. It's in beautiful LaCrosse, WI.

    So why do the teachers and coaches want her to get recruited for basketball teams at fast paced four year schools that are prestigious, but that she will struggle in? Yes, if she happened to be a B-B* student who tested well (ACT/SAT) she would probably do well at one of them, socially and athletically. But she is an Learning Disability (LD) kid who gives her heart and soul to anything she does and still struggles in subjects such as math.

    It seems as if the coaches and teachers care more about the fact that she is a fantastic basketball player than about her future profession! They are all encouraging her to apply to get into schools that are too hard for her and "I will put in a good word for her about how great a basketball player you are!" I hope it doesn't work. Jumper has stars in her eyes and would love to play at a big four year university...but nobody seems to be thinking about her success academically other than me and her father. Fortunately, she is pretty sensible and will listen to us and take what we say to her seriously. She is very aware at how hard academics come to her in some areas and she is very anxious to become a Social Worker, a career she'd excel at, but it may take her six years to get through school, which is ok with us. but basketball? After college it will be something fun for her to do in her spare time.

    Fortunately, I don't think she'll test well enough to get into a four year school. She panics during tests. But, really, it's sad that they lower academic standards to let good athletes into top colleges in the state. Academics should come first. Jumper is a very smart, sensible girl and can do anything she wants to do, but she will have to do it at a slower, more relaxed pace. She isn't going to be a WNBA player.

    The saddest part, in my opinion, is that Jumper's basketball coach has had her twice for major math classes and knows how she struggles in math, how hard it is for her, and how much extra help she needs. Yet she's one of the cheerleaders for Jumper to apply to her old college in Wisconsin and she has already told her ex-coach that she has a wonderful junior who would be great on her team in 1 1/2 years. That college is the second hardest to get into of all the Wisconsin state schools. REALLY????

    I know Americans love sports. So do I. But I think the kids should be encouraged to apply to colleges based on their academic level, not their athletic ability. Is it just me and husband?
  2. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member


    My - non-US - experience is that coaches put themselves and their own potential "glory" ahead of the player's obvious needs. No "glory" in having a star athlete playing at a junior college.

    Not that the coaches don't care at all - it's that coaches, in general, put sports a LONG ways ahead of academics. They just don't really "get it" when it comes to real life.
  3. TeDo

    TeDo CD Hall of Fame

    If they are pushing her to go to a 4-year college, yes they can get the "glory" but they are also convinced she is good enough to get a free ride through college. That opportunity goes away if she does the 2-year first. And with those grades, it doesn't sound like she would get a ton of scholarships.

    Not agreeing with them, just explaining a different point of view.
  4. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I totally agree that the emphasis on athletics over academics is insane in our country. Some of the things done to get athletes grades up infuriated me.

    I DO have a different perspective on 2yr vs 4yr colleges. The less demanding classes at a 2 yr college may actually keep her from ever getting her degree. She likely won't get the strong foundation that she will NEED for a career, and she also will likely have far greater struggles when she goes to a 4 yr university after she is done at the 2 yr.

    One thing that the 4yr schools do for athletes is to provide top quality resources for them. MANY athletes have LDs and struggle with academics. The larger athletic programs have the financial ability to provide tutors, study aides, all sorts of other resources (often including note taking and even audio/video recordings of lessons for just a very few examples). The 2 yr colleges just cannot provide this caliber of academic help. The 4 yr athletic teams are also willing to fight for a player to have an IEP and for the professors to follow them.

    Jumper may well be able to do more and get more of the help and accommodations at the 4 yr univ, plus the level of academic performance won't suddenly jump up when transfers to the 4 yr college. I would investigate VERY carefully the resources at every school she applies to and ask what they will do to help her academics.

    How do I know this stuff? My folks were educators. My mom and a number of her colleagues worked on committees to help keep students in school and to help them succeed. I also know a lot of people who have had LDs and the things that helped them. MANY of them who went to 2 yr colleges then on to 4 yr ones had a super hard time because they just were not prepared for the classes at the 4 yr schools. More than a few also found that classes they were told would transfer to the 4 yr school actually didn't. They had to be taken again, and scholarships won't generally pay for this. Even if you are assured that the classes will transfer before you take them, often changes in what is taught and how in depth it is taught end up resulting in students paying for and taking classes that will not transfer and they must repeat them. It is expensive.

    I don't think her current coaches know all of this. They are likely just seeing the kudos they will get for having her play at a major 4 yr univ. This kind of success opens doors for coaches to move up in the world. You are right to look at the schools to see which would be the best 'fit' for her in every way, but don't write off the 4 yr schools until you have taken time to find out what they can do to help Jumper reach her career goals and to support and overcome her Learning Disability (LD)'s.

    Most schools teach the tougher subjects, esp math and science, on several levels. Some are easier than others, and some are harder. Here the easier level classes (popularly called things like Cowboy Math and Rocks for Jocks, etc... by students) are aimed at people going into the Arts and Humanities, meaning majors like social work, early childhood education, etc... They are not nearly as diifficult as the versions taught for people majoring in engineering, the sciences, math, etc... It is very likely that if Jumper is getting B's in a decent high school then she will b able to handle the versions that will be recommended for a major in social work. Add the help the athletic dept will give her? She will likely do very well.

    If she does a semester or two at the 4 yr school first, seh can always transfer to the 2 yr school if it is needed.

    I know this is very scary for you, but you may need to give Jumper the freedom to see if she can succeed at the 4 yr school if that is what she wants.

    Just FYI, from knowing people who work with Women's Athletics at more than a few universities, the women are expected to have better grades and are given the resources they need and generally have frequent mandated study sessions. College coaches for women's sports are well aware of how few professional sport teams exist for women, so they know that their athletes will NEED a good education to support themselves out in the real world. At least this has been the attitude/behavior of the coaches of women's sports that I have known.

    Jumper has a really good head on her shoulders and she won't make the decision lightly.
  5. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    MWM -- I'm going to send you a pm too as I am pretty familiar with this area.

    NCAA athletes get extra academic support from a university. In some cases, it is more support than one can get through special services and Jumper could qualify for both. If Jumper is truly talented enough to get a D1 or D2 offer, you may want to examine it closely, it could end up being the best option. If they are referring to D3 schools, there is no athletic money involved and less support, so the jr college may be a better fit.
  6. jal

    jal Member

    I played volleyball in college. I was recruited actively by 4 schools and chose a Division 3, 4 yr. school to play at. I chose the Div 3 because I knew that I would not have a career in volleyball after my college was over and academics were to be my priority. I can tell you that in order to stay on the team you have to maintain a certain GPA. In my experience, my coach was clear that grades came first. All incoming freshman were mandated to attend study session every night. The only way you got out of mandatory study sessions where to have and maintain the desired GPA.

    Any college/university coach who wants to have a successful program will make sure that there players are succeeding on the court and in school. Maybe these coaches/teachers see the potential or the possibility for a scholarship to play basketball, but scholarships come with a price which is to maintain the GPA in order to play/stay in school...There are plenty of supports she can have at school to help her succeed academically. I don't see any malice on these people's part, other than encouraging her to maybe shoot a little bit higher for herself.
  7. Rabbit

    Rabbit Member

    I just want to mention although its been said in other replies that many 4 yr colleges have supports and accommodations for learning disabled students. difficult child 3 Gets tutoring and a note taker if she wants it. She has an IEP type letter which is sent to all her teachers. Both colleges difficult child 1 and 3 attend have special disabilities coordinators to help disabled students.
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Jumper needs A LOT of supports. I don't think she won't be ready for a four year college if she goes to a two year college. She will still have to take college classes. It is not what I've been told that she would get supports at a hard four year college.
  9. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    I think you should explore all options thoroughly. I would not be so quick to discount a 4 year school out of hand without touring and meeting and having multiple sit downs with admissions counselors and academic advisers. You may be surprised at the level of support they will provide. I think an athlete with learning issues has a better chance than a "run of the mill" student with learning issues. If the D1 schools are interested, she will likely redshirt her first year which will put her on a 5 year plan and that pace may be an especially good fit for her.

    I have a friend who is the woman's basketball coach at the local but major university. Her team is an extension of her family. Those girls have a "home base" at that school from the moment they begin attending and form bonds with each other from the get go. I know the same is true of the woman's tennis team at another major local university - again, they have a strong bond (my former tennis instructor is their coach).

    In my experience as both a student and a parent, sometimes the hardest thing about transitioning to college is that it is SO overwhelming. Being part of a team mitigates that. You are part of a group from the moment you start.

    I don't have a shred of athletic talent so I can't speak for myself. My boys are/were all decent varsity HS athletes but NEVER college athlete material. My older and younger sons play(ed) middle school AND HS football and PS18 was a varsity runner. difficult child could have tried out for D3 football, but decided not to do so. He regrets it. For 7 years, he was part of a football team. He was a successful student, but he was also a successful athlete. And he was always part of a team. I think some of his problems stemmed from losing that as a college freshman. He lost the feeling of athletic success, he lost the camaraderie of being on a team, and he lost the discipline that comes with playing a competitive sport. He was not a standout on his HS team -he would have been on the bench if he played D3 - but it was still a great loss. I can't imagine what it would have been if he had chosen to walk away from a great talent and opportunity. Being a part of a team had been a part of him for most of his life...and while not being a college athlete was NOT THE CAUSE OF HIS DOWNFALL - I think he missed it greatly- and the outcome would have been different for him if he had been a 3rd string bench warmer. But who knows?

    Jumper is not natural student but she IS a successful. naturally talented athlete and a SUCCESSFUL student- even as a C student because she works for it. It may be harder for her to work for student success in college - but I would hate to see her lose the part of her that is a successful talented athlete out of fear that she won't/can't be a successful college student. At the very least, i think it needs to be her choice.

    I would keep an open mind and explore every option. And in the end - I would let her decide. And I would be her strongest advocate and biggest fan - which I know you all ready are! YOU will make sure she doesn't fall through the cracks at whichever school path she chooses. She has you in her corner. She is a lucky girl.

    If she tries college athletics and it's a bad fit - it's not the end of the world. The tech school will still be there...

    just my 2 cents...
  10. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    MWM it is common for bright achieving kids to apply to many colleges and universities. Many of my friends and two of my children were straight A students who applied to multiple institutions before deciding where they would attend. This time in Jumper's life is exciting. She is recognizing that she will have a future as an adult and that she has choices that she will make next year or so. I would not be worried about what she "might" decide to do in the future. Let her enjoy this time and you guys enjoy her remaining time at home. Hugs DDD
  11. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Comparing what supports are available at our local 2-yr college with what is available at our state flagship to athletes, an Learning Disability (LD) student has an astronomically better chance of success at the flagship.
  12. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Thanks, all. Well, if she can actually get into a four year college even with a C+ average and likely low ACT scores and they'll give her all the supports she needs, I'm fine with that, I guess.

    However, some people tend to think of two year colleges as lesser than. They aren't! The two year college she is interested in is connected to a four year school so that if she does well she is automatically admitted in her junior year.

    As for the basketball girls being like family, it is the same at the two year college. She met a lot of the girls when she visited. It doesn't have any different an atmosphere in my opinion. I guess we'll see what happens. I think some here are perhaps four-year-school :) :p I just want Jumper to have a nice experience and do well. I think it's actually kind of sad if they really would give us a scholarship, make allowances for Jumper, and walk her through school just because she's a good athlete. As for having to keep up a grade point average, again, she has never had higher than a C+ in high school so if it's a B average in college, not sure that would happen. I have faith in Jumper to be a very successful citizen, given time. I don't necessarily think she can handle a four year school curriculum right off the bat though. And I really wonder why colleges seem to care more about athleticism than academics.

    Appreciate your kind input :)
  13. Signorina

    Signorina Guest

    MWM - I don't think it's sad. I think it's great.

    easy child 2 is on an academic scholarship at his current school - and he was a very good student but certainly not a standout.And his current school - smaller, 4 year private is a good fit for him even though he could have gotten into a "better" school. Additionally, he was recruited by a university WAY out of his league (ivy caliber) because he did very well on the English portion of his ACT and he planned to major in English and they are ACTIVELY recruiting Liberal Arts majors to keep their LA college vibrant and to keep their student population varied. (it's a well know science, engineering school) If easy child wanted to major in chemistry and applied there - they would have guffawed and shredded his application immediately. But as an English major - they recruited him heavily. So it's not just schools favoring athleticism over academics - it's also schools trying to be multi faceted and build many strong programs that includes athletics.

    That said, my son did not choose the ivy caliber university because he was afraid he would be over his head intellectually.

    The "4-years" want Jumper because she is a good athlete who is also a decent student and works hard. Don't discount the fact that college look very favorably on kids who are exceeding ABOVE their testing levels. A good ACT and a comparatively mediocre GPA works against many applicants. In contrast, a mediocre ACT with a more favorable GPA suggests a kid with motivation and determination and that makes her more favorable. And yes, good athletes build strong athletic programs. While it's true that there are kids who are pushed thru for their athletic talent, I think that's seen more often in the high profile men's athletic programs. Title IX means that woman's sports don't get lost in the shuffle.

    And I know JJJ commented that D3 schools don't have money for athletic scholarships (it's banned at the D3 level) - IME - they have found ways to work around that. I know quite a few athletically gifted kids who were quietly recruited at the D3 level and received grants or community/academic (wink wink) scholarships. So, that may be a good option for Jumper too.
  14. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    We have more supports at the two year school. There are tutors and stuff at the four year school for all students, but that's it. I guess I'm not as jazzed up about the four year college bit as some are. She can transfer to Winona after two years if she does well at LaCrosse Tech. And she'd get into the Social Work program and have all her regular classes already finished. And she'd still be able to play basketball. It didn't seem like a "not as good" place to me (shrug).

    Well, Jumper took the ACT last year just to see. She got something like a 14. I think you need at least an 18 and you need to get a 20 in English or Math even at LaCrosse Tech or else you have to take high English and match classes until you can catch up to college level work. We shall see if she can even get into any four year school, great athlete or not. A lot of kids here go to two year colleges if just to save money!! And a lot of kids who go to four year schools drop out!
  15. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Of course there are students who succeed and who fail at every type of school. Not knowing the specifics of each school she is considering, the info I suggested is general. The one thing about athletics at the 4yr school is that they have the cold hard cash to pay for whatever supports are needed. You would be completely astounded at the resources that athletes have that non-athlete students don't even know about, much less have access to.

    I do NOT mean to say 2yr schools are not good. They may offer a lot to some students. But they do NOT have anywhere NEAR the resources to help an athlete with Learning Disability (LD)'s that a 4 yr school does. The athletics budget covers a ton of academic supports that with-o athletic money wouldn't exist. The coaches are usually highly influential in the university and this means that they will push students to do their best AND push to make sure that teachers are following IEP/504 plans. Nonathletes have to push this themselves or with the help of a disability counselor, neither of which gets the same results as the coaches.

    I only want the best for Jumper. I don't want to see your fears of what might or might not happen get in the way, but I do want you to use your instincts to help guide her choices. That is a super fine line, and one only you can assess. My input is given to help you understand the amazing resources that most 4yr school athletes have access to that simply don't exist at 2 yr schools because of the costs. The schools are not going to tell you they cannot provide this or that or the other, not for the most part. You have to ask specifically what is available, how it s accessed, etc... The schools will tell you flat out that athletic status doesn't change the help and support the students get. Which is hogwash, pure and simple. WHY do they say this? because the athletic dept usually has its' own tutoring and support programs. They work wth the various professors in each field of study, but they don't always coordinate or communicate iwth the office that provides these things for regular students.

    As for Jumper's ACT scores? She can bring those up a lot by studying. Get her either an ACT study book wth practice tests and/or an onlne ACT prep program. You will likely bee surprised at how it can increase scores. I don't remember my SAT scores, but I do know I came up a LOT when I took it the second time after using a test prep book. Those people who say you can't study for these tests are idiots. Of course you can, and you should.

    Whatever decision that you all make will be the right one at the time. There are a whole lot of years left in life, and if Jumper wants to change schools at some pont, it isn't the end of he world. She ahs a ood head on ehr shoulders, and a great family to support her. She will be fine.
  16. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Thanks, SusieStar. Well, if any schools want to draft her for basketball and offer her the moon, as well as Learning Disability (LD) resources, certainly we will take it. I'm just thinking that this is a lot more likely to be offered to a male football star than a female basketball star. Football brings in a lot more money to the school. But I have a better perspective now and, in the end, Jumper is a good will be her decision and we will support her, no matter what.
  17. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    My eldest GD (a easy child, by the way) graduated from a large highly respected high school and was accepted to the State University of her choice. Once there they told her she had to take a remedial math course before beginning the standard Freshman math class. She was shocked as her GPA was high at a competitive high school. But she took that course and graduated in four years with a teaching degree and now teaches 3rd grade gifted classes. Taking an extra class or two does not mean you're not means you have some identifiable weakness in one area and the Universities want you to help you succeed. Taking online courses, extra classes or having a tutor are positive steps when you are trying to be the best you can be. After finishing college entry into the workforce is expedited by graduating from an acknowledged "good" college, having personal recommendations from faculty members, having a history of community service/sports participation/decent grades. Diversity is what the work world is looking for...not gpa's. My Ex was hired at the same time a "genius" was hired in Virginia. They both had Engineering degrees and were recent college graduates. The "genius" was just that, plus likely Asperger's looking back at his personality traits. Bottom line is that my "C" average husband was quickly promoted and the very smart young man was released. Life is complex but I have faith that Jumper can become a successful adult. DDD
  18. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    Jumper would have to pass clearinghouse before playing at a 4 year school is an option. At a 2.3 core GPA (only counts core classes, not gym, art, etc), she'd need an ACT of 19.

    MWM .... I don't think we were saying don't go the 2+2 route, just be aware of all the options before making a decision.
  19. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Ok, thanks. I don't think she'll get a 19 ACT. She tests horribly. I guess whatever best for her! :)