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Hit the books, then worry about college

O

ne of the reasons I love my job as a high school teacher is the diversity of our students.

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I'm sure at first you choked a bit on that thought in our far-from-diverse community here in Carroll County, but teachers don't look at kids in the same way.

We embrace, as do most of the students, the differences in each of them whether that is color or creed, gender, or sexual orientation, republican or democrat, athlete or actor, rock-n-roll or rap artist.

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When you get a chance to work an event like a sporting event, theater performance, or even proctoring the SATs, that brings in kids from other schools, it's enjoyable to see the mix of kids that event brings in. I recently proctored an SAT that brought in kids from all of the public school kids in our county as well as Carroll residents that go to private schools, and again my room was filled with kids of all walks of life.

The one thing each of these kids has in common is their desire to further their education, give themselves the best chance to make it to the next level in the classroom, and hopefully improve their opportunity at a rewarding career of their choice.

Why else would you put yourself through four-and-a-half hours of academic torture?

As I looked around my room included in the mix was a number of athletes, some that I know from our school and others from watching them grow up on our recreation fields with pictures in the RecZone, and still others that I could identify by their jackets or T-shirts promoting their school or favorite sport.

If these are some of the best athletes in the county, why would they be taking their SATs? Shouldn't they just count on their physical abilities and sport dominance to secure them a spot in a collegiate classroom? They're high school athletes already which must mean that college coaches are knocking on their door with promises of free education and national exposure.

I mean, we all put our kids in to youth sports with the thought of them grabbing a full-ride to college and a trip to the professional level, even those sports that don't have a professional level, right?

Let's first put that full-ride myth to rest.

There are only six sports, all at the Division I level, that are called "head count" sports — meaning all scholarships offered are full — and that is men's and women's basketball, Women's volleyball, gymnastics, tennis, and football (FBS only).

If you don't play one of those sports, your chances of getting a full ride athletic scholarship are slim to none.

You'd have to be an All-American prospect or practically guarantee your coach a national championship for her to award you one of her few coveted scholarships. Most coaches prefer to split those up between several players to get more bang for their buck.

I don't want to bust your bubble and crush your dreams of getting a scholarship, but rather get you to keep things in perspective.

Now, let's talk about your opportunity to advance from a high school player to be able to land a roster spot on a collegiate team.

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According to the NCAA website, there are approximately 8 million athletes playing high school sports, only 480,000 of which will ever find themselves donning a collegiate jersey, and 126,000 will receive partial or whole scholarships. Odds are better that you would get accepted in to Harvard, Yale, Princeton, or Stanford than to land a full-ride athletic scholarship.

In basketball, according to the site, only 3.4 percent of male players make it to a college roster (only 1 percent in D-I) and only 3.8 percent of female players (1.1 percent in D-I) can say the same.

In football, of the just over 1 million high school players, only 71,000 (6.5 percent) will make it to an NCAA team with only 2.5 percent making it to a Division I program and even less with "national exposure." In soccer, it's 5.7 percent of men and 7 percent of women that will make it at the next level.

Carroll County is known as being a hotbed of lacrosse so our numbers would probably tower over the national average, but men's and women's lacrosse is one of your best opportunities. Even that isn't that impressive.

Men's lacrosse is the top male sports scholarship recipient by percentage at 11.9 percent and women's lacrosse, second only to women's ice hockey, awards 12.8 percent of the high school players a chance to play in college.

There's an old Chinese Proverb that goes, "If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people."

If you want to get in to college, you may want to hit the books.

410-857-7896

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