YCH Interview Series
Colleen Reed Interview

Colleen Reed

  • American College Consulting
  • Member HECA, NACAC, IACAC
  • Secretary: Higher Education Consultants Association

1. Colleen Reed, what do you feel is the most common misconception that families have when approaching the NCAA university application process?

There are a few. Parents and players believe if the athlete is good enough, coaches will find you. That’s not the case. Athletes are more successful when they know what they want in a university and reach out to the university coaches at schools where they will thrive. Self-recruiting is more successful. Even when scouts are lining the boards, they aren’t going to notice a random player.

The other big issue is parents and athletes get too focused on Division 1and 2, overlooking Division 3 schools. Division 3 is a great untapped market where, although an athlete won’t get an athletic scholarship, they could end up with great Merit Aid covering most or all of the tuition (and guaranteed for 4 years unlike an athletic scholarship which is renewed each year.

2. What is unique about your service?

I spend time learning about the whole student/athlete. I want to understand their academic and athletic goals so I can help them find schools that fit both requirements. Only 30% of student athletes are still competing after 4 years in college so the school needs to be the right fit or they won’t be happy in the long run. My clients take personality tests, research and visit universities and build a list of requirements particular to their needs and interests.

3. How long have you been in this industry and what is the biggest thing you have learned from your experience?

I started out as a high school teacher 22 years ago. I opened American College Consulting in 2008 and have counselled over 200 students in Canada, the USA and abroad. The biggest thing I’ve learned is how much a student can grow and change. A swimmer who gets injured can play golf for a Division 3 school and be happy. A soccer player who never made it to the Provincial team can still complete in college as an impact player. An athlete with the right drive, internal motivation and dedication to their team can ride the bench for a few years and become MVP by 4th year in university.

4. What are three things you suggest that a prospective student-athlete do on an official campus visit and an unofficial campus visit?

The number one piece of advice is to know how to behave on an official visit. Coaches talk to each other so if you drink until you pass out on an official visit, no one will want you. Coaches aren’t interested in babysitting and neither are the older players on the team. Coaches are looking for athletes who can articulate their interests, athletic strengths and academic goals. Parents who monopolize the conversations with the coach give an impression that the athlete, at best, has no voice and at worst, isn’t actually interested in playing.

5. Which test do you suggest a prospective student-athlete take - SAT or ACT?

Every US school takes both tests and they have NO preference. My advice is to take a practice SAT and a practice ACT to see which one suits your aptitudes best. Study for the test that is easier for you. You can buy practice books and find practice tests on line. Be sure to carefully time your practice tests because pacing is key. Also, if you have a learning disability, apply for extended time and accommodations early…the paperwork takes time to process but can have a huge impact on your results.

6. What are three things that a parent can do to help their child in the university application process? and three things they shouldn't do?

Parents should:

  1. Have a frank conversation with the student to gage whether they actually WANT to play in college. If you play for a Division 1 school, they own you. There is very little time for a social life. The team can dictate which courses you take, where and how you spend your summers and holidays, which exams you will miss and whether you have time attend labs, art studio classes, or club meetings.
  2. Start visiting schools early. Help your student get a feel for a large, medium and small campus. Do they want internships? Research? Do they perform better in smaller classes? Does the team offer academic tutors?
  3. Hire a tutor to help your student prep for the SAT or ACT. Those scores can mean higher merit scholarships and more athletic opportunities. Encourage good grades in high school because even if a coach wants your child, the ADMISSIONS office makes the final decision.

Parents should not:

  1. Contact coaches on the student’s behalf. Coaches want to hear from the student.
  2. Write the student’s essay. Admissions can tell when an adult writes the essay and they aren’t impressed.
  3. Decide on a school because of a prestigious name. It’s more important to find a school where your student can be successful and happy.

7. What are five things that a student-athlete should consider when researching whether a school is the right fit?

  1. Location – how far from home?
  2. Academic opportunities – what courses will you take and does the school have General Education requirements like a foreign language or science classes?
  3. Size of the school – do you want to be one of the crowd or do you do better as a big fish in a little pond?
  4. Who is on the team? - Does the team have other international students on the roster? Are there any seniors on the roster? If not, why not? Was it too hard to play and be a student? How big was last year’s recruiting class?
  5. Academic support for athletes – are there tutors? Can you be an engineer/business/science etc. major and still play on the team?

8. What advice would you give to someone who is just starting the process?

Be honest about your academic potential. Don’t select schools where you will never be accepted because you don’t have the grades or scores. Alternatively, don’t go someplace where they offer you a full ride but you’d never want to be a student there. Fit is key.


9. What are the main points a student-athlete should emphasize in their college entrance essay?

Usually it’s best not to write about your sport unless you can avoid the clichéd articles including recovery from injury, winning the championships etc. Write a good story that shows your ability to write clearly and shows depth of character.

10. What is the best way for students or their parents to contact you if they have more questions?

The best way to contact me is by clicking on this American College Consulting Contact link


Colleen Reed

American College Consulting
Toronto, ON Canada
416 271 9674
creed@americancollegeconsulting.ca
www.americancollegeconsulting.ca

Member HECA, NACAC, IACAC
Secretary: Higher Education Consultants Association


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