When college recruiters come through the door of your high school, either physically, or virtually, they will have with them a checklist. It may be an actual document they are using to check off your attributes, or it may just be a “checklist” they have in their brain. It will include many of the qualities that we have already talked about (links provided):
- Character – √
- Coachable – √
- Speed – √
- Explosiveness – √
- Playing Speed – √
- Quickness – √
- Eligibility – ?
If any of these “checkmarks” are missing, you are making yourself LESS marketable – that includes your initial eligibility status. If a college recruiter has several athletes on their list that are all equally good players physically, then the player that has already taken, and has scored a qualifying score on the standardized test has a jump on the competition. The recruiter knows, without question, they can proceed recruiting this student-athlete without fear of a bad surprise down the road.
One of the very first stops the college coach will make after visiting with your high school coach and evaluating film will be either checking your status with the NCAA Clearinghouse or NAIA Clearinghouse, or actually making a trip to your guidance counselors office to check on your initial eligibility. One piece that determines your initial eligibility is your test score on either the ACT or SAT college placement test.
In order to determine your eligibility your freshman year in a NCAA Division I school, the NCAA uses “sliding scale” that takes into account both your Core GPA (minimum 16 units) and your test score. Basically, the higher Core GPA you have, the lower a test score you could have (and visa versa) and still be eligible. The entire sliding scale can be found here: Divisions I and II Initial-Eligibility Requirements which is at the NCAA Clearinghouse site.
For example, if your Core GPA is 3.55 or above, you could have an ACT Sum (adding your Reading, English, Math and Science sub scores) of 37 or a SAT score of 400 and still be eligible. If your Core GPA was a 2.5, your ACT Sum would have to be a 68 or SAT score of 820 in order to be eligible your Freshman year. Beginning in August 2016, a different sliding scale will be used in Division I schools that will have two scales – one to determine aid and practice eligibility, and one to determine initial eligibility for competition.
For NCAA Division II schools, there is no sliding scale. In order to be eligible, you must have a minimum ACT Sum score of 68, or an SAT score of 820. This is in addition to having a minimum GPA of 2.0 in at least 16 Core courses.
For initial eligibility in a NAIA school, you must have a minimum composite score of 18 on the ACT or 860 on the SAT.
In addition to eligibility, for many student-athletes, a good test score can have additional positive results. Many, if not most, FCS, NCAA Division II, and NAIA schools will have academic scholarship levels that will be based on, among other things, your ACT or SAT test scores. These academic scholarships often range from $500 up to a full tuition award. Also, remember athletic scholarships below the FBS level are often divided up into partial awards (see my previous post on Expanding the Pool). So it is quite conceivable that if you score well on your college entrance exam, that this academic aid could be added to a partial athletic award, thereby increasing your total aid package!
I recommend that athletes take the college entrance exam early, and often. There is no penalty for taking it more than one time – your best score will be used. From my experience, most students score better after their initial test, for a number of reasons. Students often get more comfortable with the test and testing environment, and often you will have taken additional course work that will help you in sections of the exam. The only drawback is the cost of taking the test more than once. Also, If you take the test early and see you need additional help, such as an ACT/ SAT prep course (many high schools and communities offer these) then you have time to do that before your clock starts counting down.
What is “early”? – I would say after your sophomore year if possible, and at the latest after your junior year. I also recommend that you do not take the test on a Saturday that falls in your competitive season. Here is a schedule of the 2013 testing dates and deadlines:
Next up… what is the Clearinghouse (NCAA and NAIA) and Core courses.
Any questions? Email or Comment!
Jeff Floyd – email@example.com
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