It is that time of year again, when high school seniors across the country are deciding on which college they will choose for the next four years. For some, it is the hardest decision that they will have to make due to the mental, emotional and financial stress it puts on them and their families. For high school soccer players, it means choosing a soccer team that you want to commit to for the next four years.
At the NCAA Division III level, there are many pressures placed on high school seniors to pick one school over the other- from college coaches, from parents and from themselves. And once that decision has been made, how does a high school soccer player commit to an NCAA Division III soccer program? The answer to that question may surprise you.
As has been discussed in previous posts about the National Letter of Intent, the NLI is a binding program that only applies to schools that participate in the NLI program (namely NCAA Division I and Division II colleges and universities). NCAA Division III schools, DO NOT have the NLI program.
So how does a student-athlete “commit” to an NCAA Division III school?
For NCAA Division III colleges, there really is no specific, binding action that you can take to commit yourself to an institution. Let’s repeat that— there are no specific, binding actions that commit you to a college or university at the NCAA Division III level. (The lone exception to that is if you apply Early Decision— that is binding. For more info on early decision, see the College Board’s website on “Early Decision and Early Action”.)
Let’s look at the different types or levels of “commitments” that are typically used by a student-athlete and coach when looking at an NCAA Division III college. First is the verbal commitment. That goes along the lines of a conversation like this:
Player- “Hey Coach, I really, really thought it over for a long time and I decided that I am going to go to your University in Fall 2016. Can’t wait to be a part of your team”.
Coach- “Hey that’s great news we are excited to have you on the team. Did you sign your acceptance letter and send it back with your deposit?”
Player- “Well not exactly…..”
Coach- “OK, well as soon as you can get that done. And don’t forget to send in your deposit for on campus student housing, because you want to make sure you have housing for next year. Did you get that in?”
Player- “A deposit for what???”
Coach- “OK, let’s take a step back. Did you complete your application yet?”
Player- “Oh yeah sure I got that done today! It is sitting here right in front of me.”
Coach- “OK, why don’t you send that in to the Admissions Office and we will go from there.”
Let’s be real—- this commitment, while it may be sincere and true, is essentially worthless. The player could wake up the next morning after having made that “verbal commitment” and change their mind. Do you know any high school aged kids like that? They can, they do, and there is nothing restricting them from doing it. And there certainly are a few “steps” more than just saying “I am coming to your school.”
As the above conversation showed, the next level of “commitment” is applying to the school. By filling out an application (and possibly paying an application fee), the player is showing a greater level of investment in the school by actually applying. With the increase in usage in the Common Application, even applying to a school has become easier and many high school seniors routinely apply to 10 or more schools if they accept the Common Application.
Also keep in mind that many students will apply to a “safety” school. By this we mean a school that the student is fairly certain to get accepted to based on their own academic record and the admission criteria of the school to which they are applying. They apply to this school only in the event that all other applications fall through.
In next weeks post we will continue with this discussion.
The bottom line is this— as Shrek said, like ogres, committing to an NCAA Division III school has layers. There are several different “layers” of commitment. Just saying that you are going and applying is not enough!
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