John's Pathway to College
Freshman Year: As John first stepped into high school, he was excited about the opportunity both to play soccer for his high school and explore his academic interests. However, the long process that was ahead of him scared him. Not only learning everything about his new school, but also thinking about the future when he graduates high school and hoped to one day go to college. Through his travel soccer coach, he had been given a checklist starting with freshman year and culminating with senior year. The first step of the checklist was to set up a meeting with his guidance counselor to discuss graduation requirements and areas of interest. Out of the list of 50 questions included in the checklist, he decided to select one from each of the six questions the checklist was divided into that he thought were most relevant to his situation.
Going into the meeting John was extremely nervous. He had never been in a meeting like this and was still confused about a lot of things about the college process. However, after meeting is started to give him a little bit of an idea of the things he was looking for. The school’s guidance counselor assured him that he had time to make all of these decisions, but it was good that he was starting to think about these types of things early on. One of the things that the guidance counselor suggested that he do was perform a self-evaluation. John thought this was kind of stupid, but that night he jotted down some of his thoughts about what he wanted in the future. These quick notes would serve as an important guide for his college selection process over the next four years. Another suggestion for the guidance counselor was to look into extracurricular activities that interested him, the only problem being John was not sure what he was interested in yet. For now, he was mostly focused on his soccer training, and believed after a solid first year on his high schools’ team that he had the abilities to play in college.
Sophomore Year: At the beginning of his sophomore year of high school, John was starting to hear more and more of his peers discussing their college search and which schools they wanted to go to. However, he still had no idea where he stood. One night after soccer practice he decided to look again at that checklist that he was given freshmen year by his coach. The first bullet point of the list was to start to consider the most important factors in picking a college. The five biggest factors on the list were academic, finances, location, soccer, and size/type. For John, the most important factor was soccer. He badly wanted to play Division 1 soccer and would really go anywhere to do so. However, location and finances were also big factors for him to consider. He had never even been to the other side of the country and had lived in New Jersey for his entire life. He was also unsure about his family’s financial situation and whether they were going to be able to send him to college without a sizable scholarship. His grades his freshman year were pretty good, so he thought that he would easily be eligible for most of the Division 1 schools he would want to apply to. From there, he started to make a list of Division schools that were in the Northeast that he could see himself playing for. He also included a few Division 3 schools, and a couple he might be interested in going to without playing soccer. However, for the most part he had his sights set on playing for a Division 1 school. Now that he had made the list, he wanted to start contacting some of the college coaches to start to get his name out there. He signed up for SoccerScout, a site recommending to him by his travel coach. Along with doing that, he started to send emails to the coaches of some of his top choice schools. After doing this, he thought he was in a really good position to get what he wanted.
After a few months of sending emails and doing some more research on colleges, John became a little discouraged by his results. Out of the around 20 colleges coaches that he had sent emails to, only a few had answered him. Out of those few schools, two of them were Division 3 schools and only one Division 1 school had responded to his inquiries. He had set up recruiting calls with all three of the schools who had responded to him and had sent them a highlight reel of some of his travel soccer games. His team was a top 15 team in the state according to the rankings, and he was the leading scorer on the team. He was confused why more Division 1 schools were not interested in what he had to offer. As far as his academics, everything seemed to be going pretty much to plan. He was getting B average grades and had registered to take the PSAT. While he had not done any studying for it yet, he figured that he would reevaluate once he took the test. Even after a little bit of discouragement, he will still hopeful of his dream of playing soccer for a Division 1 school.
Junior Year: As his junior year in high school started and began to fade away, John was truly stressed out about everything that went into the college process. At the beginning of the year he had met with his guidance counselor to discuss the situation. He had stayed in contact with the three college coaches that had responded to his emails, but still was unsure about his other college choices. His guidance counselor recommended that he narrow his choices down to seven schools and should make his other four choices purely based on his academic interests and not anything to do with soccer. This was a harsh reality for John to face, but he agreed that this was probably a good decision. Another difficult process for Joh had been the PSAT test; he had not performed well on it and worried that his difficulties taking standardized tests would affect his ability to get into the college he wanted. However, out of everything, John’s biggest concern was his family’s financial situation. He still had not talked to them about it and did not know where they stood. He needed to know but did not want to even approach that conversation with his parents. Finally, one night, he asked his parents if he could talk with them about their finances and what they could afford.
The talk went a lot better and less awkward than John had expected. John had asked the question about they could afford and what they couldn’t. The answer that John got was pretty similar to what he thought; since he was born, his parents have been saving up money for his college fund. However, it was still likely that they could not afford to all four years of college for him without any scholarships or student loans. While he was happy that the conversation had not been too awkward, he was still frustrated about all of the different factors that he had to consider. Now that he knew what he needed to know about his family’s finances, he could now really start to narrow down his school choices. He knew that the Division 3 schools that were interested in him could not offer scholarships; only the Division 1 school could do that. If he wanted to play at those schools, he would need some sort of merit-based scholarship. This is when he really started researching schools that he would be interested in where he wouldn’t be able to play soccer. He was researching schools in state because they would be cheaper, and schools that fit his interests. As he went on with his Junior year, he started to realize that what really interested him was business. He had taken a business class that he really enjoyed and thought that would be something he would like to continue studying in college. Now that he had some sort of framework, it was easier for him to make the list of seven schools that would be his top choices.
Senior Year: Going into his final year in high school, John was really feeling the pressures of the college process adding up. He had a document with the seven schools he was interested in along with the application deadlines for each. During the summer between his junior and senior year, he visited all seven schools with his parents, all of which were driving distance away from his hometown. At the three schools where he had been talking to the coaches, he met with each to discuss his possible role with the team. His meeting with the Division 1 coach had not gone the way that he expected. The coach said that he could not offer him a scholarship, but John could try to make it on the team as a walk on. Already a financial reach for him and his family because it was an out of state school, he was not enthusiastic about his chances of playing Division 1 soccer. He crossed this school off of his list and was now down to his final six. Out of the final six schools he visited, he had two top choices in his head; one was a big state school that he would not play soccer at, but was going to be cheap for him because it was in state, and they had a great business school. His other choice was a Division 3 school that were interested in him playing for them. It was out of state in Pennsylvania in a place he had never been to, but he was really excited by his meeting with the coach and the team really seemed to fit his mentality and playing style. Another big consideration was that the school could be applied to test optional; as hard as he had tried, his standardized test scores did not reflect his grades. John knew he was going to apply to both schools, but if he got into both, he would have a tough decision to make about what he wanted to do.
John ended up applying to five schools but knew what his top two choices were. He had gotten all of his application materials together, and through hard work with his family, teachers, and coaches, he was optimistic about his applications. As the results started coming in, he had learned that he got rejected from two of his choice and accepted into three of them. Fortunately, or unfortunately for John, his top two choices had both accepted him. He did not know what to do, but while making his decision he received some great news. He had been chosen as one of recipients of the EDP Scholarship, which would help him with some of the financial rigors that he knew he would face in college. Still, he had a tough choice to make about which school should choose. The in-state school had a better business school and would cost a little less, but he loved playing soccer and was really energized by the conversation he had with the coach at the Division 3 school.