Think sports are a direct route to college scholarships? Think again. Most American parents, in their race to secure financial aid long before their children can read or write, view sports, not academics, as the surest pathway to secure these opportunities.
Ask any parent freezing on the sidelines of the soccer field in November how they expect their 3 year old to benefit from participating in this game when they are barely out of diapers and you’re likely to hear something about how playing a sport can increase the child’s chance of a scholarship to a good college.
This, unfortunately for most parents, is a myth; the likelihood of a full athletic scholarship for a high school athlete is shockingly low. In an article for the New York Times, Bill Pennington points out that the “average NCAA athletic scholarship for football and basketball is nowhere near a full ride, amounting to just $8,707, and in sports like baseball or track and field, the number is often as low as $2000.”
Place your bet on sports and, at best, you receive an average of a 4% college discount. In the meantime, your children miss out on valuable time that could have been spent developing their minds and actually improving their chances of financial aid.
Myles Brand, the president of the N.C.A.A. writes, “The real opportunity is taking advantage of how eager institutions are to reward good students…Most people with good academic records aren’t paying full sticker price. We don’t want people to stop playing sports; it’s good for them. But the best opportunity available is to try to improve one’s academic qualifications.”
It’s little surprise that the best tool to achieve a strong academic performance is math. Research has shown that a systematic math education at an early age can put your child’s mind in order to become a better student, critical thinker and problem solver. And this significantly increases the probability of better grades in high school, acceptance to better colleges, opportunities for financial aid and scholarships, and even securing a lucrative career.
According to a recent survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, which tracks college graduate job offers, “The top 15 highest-earning college degrees all have one thing in common – math skills.”
As parents we have only a few short years to influence the future success of our children. Sports are important, and shouldn’t be neglected. But when devising your strategy for getting your children into the best schools at the lowest price, make sure academics take the lead.