The Sweaty Truth About Sports Scholarships

Parents of athletes fork out thousands to cover sports expenses over the years. Many wonder, “Is all this time, effort, and money going to pay off big when this kid gets to college?” Here, the sweaty truth about sports scholarships.

truth about sports scholarships

1. The truth about sports scholarships: They can make it next to impossible to succeed academically. 

Student athletes are typically required to devote up to 40 hours per week to practices, travel, conditioning, and games. This article by NextStepU calls it “an unbelievable commitment in time and dedication…you may…be practicing at 6 a.m. or midnight or even twice a day.”

If your kid has an important test scheduled at the same time as travel back from a game, he’ll likely be told, “Too bad, you’re on a sports scholarship. Buck up and show that you’re all in on this sport.” Your daughter needs to study? She’ll likely hear, “Bring books and notes and study on the bus on the way.” Lack of quiet study space, pressure to repeatedly skip college classes, and sheer exhaustion from the schedule can wreak havoc with a student’s ability to focus on academics—the very reason he or she is at college in the first place.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy writes this, in Moneywatch:

Officially, D-I teams aren’t supposed to practice more than 20 hours a week though travel and other extra obligations aren’t included. In reality, the time restriction is often a joke. Conditioning or weight lifting, for instance, might be called voluntary, but the coach takes attendance and the kid who spends that time in the library could end up on the bench.

In the consulting work I do at GetIntoMedSchool.com, one of my clients explained his “B” in Organic Chemistry to me this way: “We flew home from a game, and I ran down the concourse and dove into the back of a taxi. I screamed at the driver to rush me to the building where my O Chem final was going on, but I was still 45 minutes late. The professor had no sympathy for my situation, and refused to give me any extra time. She said I should have made it a priority to be at the exam on time.”

2. The truth about sports scholarships: They’re not as lucrative as you think. 

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“Push Your Kid into Electrical Engineering!” (Really?)

Recently, I was contacted by a freelance writer hoping to guest post on my blog. Her article was essentially a long list of reasons why electrical engineering is a great career for students to consider.

electrical engineering

The writer provided several great reasons for students to consider electrical engineering, including these:

  • Electrical engineering can be an excellent part of an interdisciplinary career that also includes chemical, civil, petroleum, mechanical, software, or biomedical engineering.
  • Electrical engineering can be applied to work that involves signal processing, control systems, robotics, microelectronics, and more.
  • Electrical engineering pays well, and career prospects in electrical engineering are good. (Just take a look at this excellent information page that the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides on the subject of electrical engineering.)

I refused to publish the article, and here’s why.

My reply to this writer said:

“Ella, it’s clear that you have worked very hard on this article about electrical engineering, but I’m sorry; I cannot accept it for use on my blog.

In everything I write, I stand against pushing kids to certain career goals unless three specific psychometric assessments indicate that the child would be naturally good at that career as far as personality, interest, and strength bent. I go into detail on exactly how parents can access these assessments and figure all this out in chapter 13 of my book.

I can’t publish anything encouraging students toward one certain career. What if the parent reading the article has a child who is a born artist, and that child will be miserable and a failure as an electrical engineer? Thank you for your effort here. I hope you can get it published somewhere else.”

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5 Reasons “T-Shaped” is Better Than Well-Rounded

well-rounded

From the time students are in middle school, they’re told the big lie. That colleges and grad schools are looking for students who are “well-rounded.”

“Don’t commit too deeply to any one thing,” well-meaning parents and college counselors tell students. “Instead, do a lot of different things. Do as many as you can! Cram your schedule full to bursting! Exhaust yourself! Colleges and grad schools will like how ‘well-rounded’ you are.”

Here are 5 reasons why the “well-rounded” myth makes no sense.

1. Millions of students fall into the “well-rounded” category. It’s nothing special.

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17 College Majors That Put Kids On the Path to Underemployment

Forbes recently published a list of 17 college majors that carry high underemployment rates.

Grads in these degree fields find it hard to get the jobs they went to school for. They tend to make less money than they should be making, and a lot of them live with this discouraging realization: “I might have just wasted all that time and money I spent on college; I’m not even using the degree I worked so hard for.”

Help your kid stay off of the path to underemployment.

college major

17 College Majors That Tend to Lead to Underemployment:

  1. Physical Education Teaching: 57% grads are underemployed
  2. Human Services: 56% grads are underemployed
  3. Illustration: 55% grads are underemployed
  4. Criminal Justice: 53% grads are underemployed
  5. Project Management: 53% grads are underemployed
  6. Radio/Television & Film Production: 53% grads are underemployed
  7. Studio Art: 52% grads are underemployed
  8. Healthcare Administration: 52% grads are underemployed
  9. Education: 52% grads are underemployed
  10. Human Development & Family Studies: 52% grads are underemployed
  11. Creative Writing: 51% grads are underemployed
  12. Animal Science: 51% grads are underemployed
  13. Exercise Science: 51% grads are underemployed
  14. Heath Sciences: 51% grads are underemployed
  15. Paralegal Studies: 51% grads are underemployed
  16. Theater: 51% grads are underemployed
  17. Art History: 51% grads are underemployed

(This information is based on PayScale data collected from 962,956 workers between 3/21/2014 and 3/21/2016.)

But wait–there’s good news in this Forbes report too!

In every one of these college major fields, some of the graduates are working. A good number of them (in some cases almost 50%!) are employed in their career fields, fulfilling their potential, making money they’re happy with.

What sets the fully-employed grads apart from the underemployed ones?

One thing I know for sure–the grads who completed extensive job shadowing and multiple paid internships in their career fields are doing far better than those who failed to complete these important steps during college.

You can see two extremely helpful posts I’ve written about internships here and here.

If your kid loves a field with low employability, have him or her try this:

Take the advice of Gwen Burrow from Find Your Calling, who tells students: “Ask yourself–do you really need two or four years of full study in subjects like studio art, creative writing, or theater? Is that something you could do with just a few classes, plus practice on your own time?”

Your child could also consider combining the less desirable major with a potentially more lucrative minor. Combine a “health care administration” major with an accounting minor, for instance, or an “illustration” major with a marketing, advertising, or art education credential.

I’m not sure I’d advise your kid to pursue a college major in Studio Art, Theater, or Art History…

Those fields are notoriously difficult when it comes to finding full-time jobs after college.

But I can tell you this. Being strategic about job shadowing and interning can make the difference between depressing, low-paying, motivation-sapping underemployment and a truly fulfilling long-term career that makes perfect sense.

(Many thanks to Gwen Burrow from Find Your Calling for the help she gave me writing this article.)

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12th Grader’s Got No Career Direction? Do This—Right Now.

This article on career direction for 12th graders was originally published here on March 11th, 2015. It was updated and republished here on December 7th, 2018.

Your 12th grader hasn’t yet figured out “what he wants to do with his life,” and it’s making you nervous. You absolutely don’t want him living in your basement next year—partially for fear he’ll turn into one of those 20something kids floundering through their 20’s without jobs that actually allow them to support themselves.

Don’t lose another night’s sleep over this. You can help your child take aim and shoot at an exciting future that’s beautifully suited to him.

7 Ways to Help a 12th Grader Who Needs Career Direction

1. Get your child three specific career assessments as soon as possible. I’ll help you.

I clearly explain why and how in chapter 13 of my book, LAUNCH: How to Get Your Kids Through College Debt-Free and Into Jobs They Love Afterward

To see which assessments I recommend and where to find a certified practitioner to administer them, visit the Approved Consultants tab on this website.

I’m convinced that having this career direction work done before starting college can save your family $50,000 in tuition payments for unneeded college classes.

If your child doesn’t want to take career assessments, read this article on paying teens to do things.

2. What was your son’s personality type on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator? INTP? ESFJ? Read the chapter on that personality type in the book Do What You Are.

I love the book Do What You Are by Paul D. Tieger, Barbara Barron, and Kelly Tieger. This book will provide a huge number of possible career goals for your son based on how his personality type thinks, works, and processes information.

3. Your child’s still resistant to the idea of taking career assessments, even when you offer to pay him to take them? Do this.

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