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Selling Ourselves

As far as I’m concerned, any day where I get to watch a Family Vacation scene with students is a good day.  Today we worked on applications for High School Academies (something in our division where students can attend another school, if accepted into a high caliber program). I get a little competitive of my kids during this time when I am in 8th grade, and so I try to provide as many opportunities for perfected their applications as possible.

Academy pop up series

Although crazy, filling out these applications is much like filling out a college application (minus the charge, and FAFSA, so better really). Today’s pop up session was regarding short answer questions, such as future goals, extracurricular activities, leadership roles, etc. I am trying to get the kids to realize that for any application, we are simply selling ourselves so that they stand out against other students from across the city. For Middle Schoolers, I find that just about anything where they get to be social can become engaging.

So alas, I decided to relate how to sell yourself in short answers to how to make a great speech.  We started with talking about the Elevator Speech (which is essentially what we are doing on paper for short answers), and then we discussed a Banquet Speech. That is, how to wrap things up in a really pretty package to make everything sound magical and amazing.

Academy Pop Up 2

Before we ended the session with an open lab where they worked on their application (thank you Google Docs for allowing me to say “share it with me and I’ll read it later” when I Have 60 kids ready for attention!), we make our own toasts; we make them specific and detailed and beautiful.  It is so fun and one of my favorite lessons!

*** This is easily adaptable for High Schoolers in college application workshops, or for career and networking lessons in all grades!

Academy Pop Up 2_

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Recruit! Or Just Support!

So, my daughter is on a 16u Softball team and we have started to look at the process for college applications and recruiting and whatnot.  It’s crazy (and a little uncomfortable) to be on this side of the process!  Being that I’m in the system, I have been sending info to parents and players in hopes to help with their process as well.  I recently sent out a “touch base” e-mail and thought I could share it here!
Hello parents and players!
We are now half-way through Freshman/Sophomore year, so it’s time for a gut check! Here are a few things to consider:

  • Get NCAA ID- Please be sure to go to the NCAA Eligibility Center and make sure players have a NCAA ID. All Sophomores should have one by the end of the year.
  • Review transcripts/meet with counselor- It’s a good time to review transcripts with your School Counselor to assure you are taking the right classes and the steps for eligibility. You can also start talking schools and other scholarship opportunities, as many scholarships are already available to underclassmen.  Parents are also encouraged to reach out to the counselors and use them as a tool to help guide through this process. (you know I have to put a plug in there for us Counselors!)
    • Students should know their general GPA at all times.
  • Attend camps/clinics/showcases- Students and parents should be looking into camps at colleges/universities. You can choose both multi-school camps and camps at schools your player is interested in (both can be very beneficial, especially in a skill-building context- if players/parents attend a camp just to be recruited, they have fallen out of the growth mindset and are missing a large part of the point). This is NOT required, but is a great platform for development.
    • It might be good for players to attend at least one camp, clinic, or showcase by themselves. This team is amazing because of the way the players get along and interact. However, many of them will not be at prospect camps together and/or attending post-secondary paths together. This could help them perform without the crutch and comfort of each other.
    • When players return from camps, they should share at least one exercise/drill/lesson with their teammates. This will broaden the scope of individual monies spent (coaches- this could even be required for players who miss practices for a camp, as a way to require them to apply what they learned).
  • Communicate with coaches- Players can continue to send e-mails to coaches with questions you have about being a student-athlete and navigating this crazy process.
    • Any time you are in contact with a coach, always follow up with an e-mail. You should thank them for their time, ask a question, and mention something that you learned.  This gets you info and gains exposure. Make sure your inbox is cleaned out so that you can see when they hit you back.
    • Also, tweet, tweet, tweet!! Just yesterday I heard a D1 coach say, “follow us on Twitter!” This is a great tool. See a good play on a televised game? Wish you could make a great rivalry game? Retweeting a picture of the roster/team/campus/etc.? Tag the team and coaches on all of these.
    • Continue filling out interest surveys online
  • Compile/narrow post-secondary options- Now is the time to talk about post-secondary options that players are interested in. Early decision admission deadlines will be as early as next year for some players! With financial guidelines and lessons on the money, time, and work required to attend school, kids can make better decisions for themselves, and know where they will be responsible in filling in the gaps of areas where your checkbook ends.
    • It is easy to default towards discouraging a student from looking at a school/team that is out of their GPA/skill reach, but it could hurt the process. This could make a difference between their being picked up by a D2 vs. D3 team, even if the original goal was D1. Realistic and honest conversation is perfect- but at this age, it is beneficial for students to come to realizations on their own. In the school we try to lead the student to the reality check and have the student do the work (ex. ‘Harvard? Look up the minimum GPA, then compare it with yours. Is it possible?’ instead of ‘not a chance’- the difference is, this is Harvard’s decision, not the counselor or parent’s). This goes for hopeful teams as well; if a student is interested in a super competitive team, be honest with them about the skill and work that will be required to get them there. If it’s above their skill level, they can strive to get better. College coaches and admissions officers will be happy to let them know they did not make the team or entering class! I’ve seen students do amazing stuff- some rise to the occasion with the thought that someone believes in them!