The Edge Our college admission blog

A Stress-Free And Fun FAFSA?

by Admitster December 30, 2015


Another great guest blog post from our friends over at NCSA Athletic Recruiting!

Think about how stressful it can be to learn about the college admissions and recruiting processes. Put that same learning curve, the same nerve to figure out a complex project with a definite due date, into a much smaller window and you get the FAFSA!

Did you know that for students who attend school for four years, the average incurred cost of loans is approximately $147,000? Further, know that the window to complete the Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) opens on January 1st. You can submit your FAFSA at any time (between January 1st, 2016 and June 30th, 2017), but some families feel time crunch because depending on your school, state, and type of aid, awards go out on a first come, first served basis.

Don’t stress out. Seriously. This FAFSA paperwork isn’t going to hurt you. Just be sure that you don’t make errors when filling out your FAFSA – check out this post to avoid the most common mistakes!

Here are the top ways to fill out the FAFSA without stressing out about it:


The FAFSA will ask your family to provide information in five categories. Specifically, you will be asked about:

  1. The student-athlete.
  2. The student-athlete’s dependency on his/her parents (this is a legal question – does a parent or guardian list the student-athlete as a dependent on their tax returns?).
  3. The student-athlete’s parents or guardians.
  4. The student-athlete’s financial background.
  5. The schools that you want the FAFSA to send information to directly.

There are also a bunch of advanced tips (from Chegg) about the FAFSA that can help you to understand some of the more complicated arrangements some families might pursue to maximize their student aid.


In addition to the general bucket categories we listed above, you’re going to need to have a couple of things on-hand that you probably don’t have memorized. Take some time to gather this information together so you don’t feel like you’re searching through your lock box and paperwork and losing your place in the FAFSA. You’ll need:

  • Social security numbers for the student-athlete and parents (if the student-athlete is filing as a dependent).
  • Driver’s license numbers.
  • W2′s from the current and previous year.
  • Tax returns from the previous year (since you probably haven’t done your 2015 taxes yet, the FAFSA lets you use the most recent one you have).
  • Information about any additional benefits you might have: welfare, veteran’s, social security, investments, etc.
  • Information about any additional financial figures that you might need to report: businesses, mortgages, etc.

Did you know that missing out on important financial aid information can mean paying as much as $90,000 extra?

All of the above will help the FAFSA to compute your Expected Family Contribution. Also, please remember that no matter your family’s income, it behooves you to complete a FAFSA.


This might come from years of trumpeting that my sport was other sports’ punishment, but I am a firm believer that there’s a silver lining in everything. Hill repeats? There’s going to be a downhill soon enough. Circuit workout? Get an awesome song playing and it’ll make the time fly by.

ncsablogDo the same when you fill out the FAFSA. Put on some music that everyone enjoys. (I know, I have a dad, too — that might be easier said than done.) Give yourself a reward when you’ve finished it – maybe the family can go out for pizza or an ice cream.

The FAFSA may seem like a chore, but it doesn’t have to be. After all, it’s time that your family gets to spend together!

We have an incredible resource library of tips, how-tos and strategies for every part of your recruiting process. Want access? Get started with a recruiting profile!

Great Majors For Sports-Oriented Careers

by Admitster December 4, 2015


Another great guest blog post from our friends over at NCSA Athletic Recruiting!

What do you want to be when you grow up?

These surprising fields might help you to have a career in sports!

For many student-athletes, working in sports is a top career goal for the future. And at NCSA Athletic Recruiting, we totally get it. It’s a thrilling field to be a part of day-in and day-out. It’s fast-paced and ever-changing. Above all, making a career in sports is a means to positively impact the world. (By the way, we’re hiring!)

There is not a place humanly inhabited on the planet that hasn’t been touched by sports. It is a universal language, and is incredible to be a part of. So, aside from having a love for sports, how can a student-athlete begin to successfully approach and plan for a future career in sports?



The truth is, given the times we’re in, many, many of the opportunities lie in technology-based companies. The past three decades have seen technological advances touch literally every aspect of life and work, and the world of sports was not exempt from that sweep. Look at NCSA, where we connect student-athletes with college coaches through one-on-one interactions with student-athletes and their families, and through a digital platform where student-athletes and college coaches can connect. That digital platform has been built by developers and programmers, all of whom have a background in technology and, of course, a love of sports.

Why A Career In Sports Could Absolutely Be In Your Future

Made In Chicago week just wrapped up. It’s a series of events and workshops that highlight all of the wonderful things made in our flagship city. A seminar that sparked a lot of interest was titled “Get in the Game: A Sports & Technology Panel.” Our president and COO, Lisa Strasman, participated on the panel, discussing how thirsty sports companies are for employees with technological backgrounds.

So, what should student-athletes who are interested in a future in sports and technology be looking to study in college? Well, you might start here, with one of these top 10 majors in the field of technology:

  • Computer Science
  • Management Information Systems
  • Computer Information Systems
  • Computer Programming
  • Software Engineering
  • Database Management
  • Web Development
  • Network Engineering
  • Network Management
  • Game Design

The point is, a lot of student-athletes think of sports management, kinesiology, physical therapy or other hands-on careers in sports — and that’s great! The world needs all sorts of different people. However, if you have a passion for technology, finding and deciding on a field of study in college can help you to explore other majors than you might have realized. And if you find yourself ready to change lives, work in sports, and put your technological savvy to use in four years, we need more people like you on our team!

Even if you know what major you want to have, finding a school that’s the right social, academic, and athletic fit for you can be tough. That’s where we come in. Let our scouts and digital platform help you to discover the right fit for you. The best way to get started is with a recruiting profile!

The Student-Athlete Campus Visit

by Admitster November 17, 2015



Another great guest blog post from our friends over at NCSA Athletic Recruiting!

NCSA Recruiting Expert and Educational Speaker, Coach Bob Chmiel, travels the country year-round, providing families with recruiting education at partner camps, combines, and high school events. With over thirty years of experience in college football – specifically football recruiting – Coach Chmiel now lives his passion for sports and education as a speaker at NCSA.

One of the most exciting aspects of the recruiting process is visiting a college campus. The dream of moving on to play a chosen sport in college really starts to feel like a reality once a student-athlete has had the chance to go and check out the school, meet potential teammates, and get to know the coaching staff. Even just walking the paths between class buildings and dorms starts to give a good idea as to what campus life is like, and whether or not student-athletes could see themselves attending a particular school.

Now, there are two ways to visit a school as a prospect or recruit: an unofficial visit or an official visit.

When looking at Division I schools, a student-athlete can take five official visits and an unlimited amount of unofficial visits, according to NCAA regulations. In all other divisions (DII, DIII, NAIA), official and unofficial visits are unlimited.

But what’s the difference between the two? As fall sports are in the middle of campus visit season, and spring sport student-athletes are preparing to accept offers to visit schools, let’s review.

ncsa post


Official Visits To A College

An official visit is when the school invites a student-athlete to visit campus, paying for their travel, lodging, and certain per diem expenses. For instance, if a student-athlete flies to visit a school on an official visit, the school will pay for their plane ticket (although the school will not pay for the ticket of a family member or anyone else coming along). If the school is close enough for a student-athlete to drive to for an official visit, the athletic program will pay for gas mileage.

Again, student-athletes are allowed up to five official visits to Division I schools, and unlimited visits at schools in all other divisions. By the same token, college programs are only allowed to host a certain amount of official visits, and this amount varies by sport.

It is my advice to take as many official visits as are offered and of interest outside of Division I. Why? Precisely for the reason that outside of Division I, you can take unlimited visits! You’ve got nothing to lose, the trip is paid for, and you may fall in love with a college and program you wouldn’t have experienced had you not gone on an official visit there.

If you are getting multiple offers for official visits within Division I, the “up-to-five” rule means that it’s going to take some planning and discretion when deciding where to accept an official visit. Keep this in mind as you start to map out when and where you want to visit and what division the school is in.

Unofficial Visits To A College

Just as the word suggests, an “unofficial” visit is the exact opposite of an official visit in regards to having your expenses covered. On an unofficial visit, a student-athlete pays their way to the campus, and is also responsible for covering all lodging, food, and other expenses.

Once you have committed to taking an unofficial visit to a program, a recruit may be issued up to three tickets to a regular season game being played during their visit, according to NCAA regulations, which the school will set up for you. However, no school can offer a recruit tickets to tournament or bowl games.

Again, a recruit can take an unlimited amount of unofficial visits!

How Recruits Can Set Up Both Official and Unofficial Visits

Both types of visits require an invitation from a college coach or program, meaning a school has to proactively send you some form of an invitation offering either an official or unofficial visit, and that’s when it’s up to you to follow-up.

As a high school student-athlete, however, you can absolutely reach out to a college coach and let him/her know your interest in visiting their school. In fact, I highly recommend doing so! In an e-mail or over the course of a phone call, it’s a great idea to mention to a coach, “I want to be clear that I really love what I know about your program and school and would be honored to be offered a visit.”

Taking an enthusiastic, respectful, and proactive approach to getting offered an official or unofficial visit is a great place to start with schools that are on your radar.

Coach Chmiel’s Last Pieces of Advice

There are some final thoughts I want to leave you with.

Being offered an official visit by a college program generally means a program has a very high level of interest in you. Take this into consideration, and remember, if it’s a Division I school, you only get five official visits. Use them wisely.

If a school is offering you an unofficial visit, there is at least some interest there, however not anywhere near the same level as an official visit offer.

When schools outside of Division I offer you an official visit, I don’t really see any downside in taking it. You may learn you love a school you never knew much about, or it may make it easier to cross it off your list. Furthermore, practice interacting with coaches and their teams is always a positive thing when it comes to your recruitment.

Plan visits early on and with efficiency by area of the country. For instance, schedule them in an area where you’re vacationing with your family or perhaps traveling for a tournament. The more you make campus visits a priority early on in the process, the more confident you’ll be in your decision later down the road.

The scouts and digital resources at NCSA Athletic Recruiting can help you prepare for your campus visits. The best way to get started is with a recruiting profile!

Mental Health Services For Student-Athletes

by Admitster October 27, 2015


Another great guest blog post from our friends over at NCSA Athletic Recruiting!

A Pixar movie called Inside Out debuted over the summer, looking inside an 11 year-old girl’s mind to show how her emotions – feelings of joy, fear, anger, disgust, and sadness – are triggered, and at which times and under which circumstances. Unless you have a younger family member, neighbor, or perhaps a babysitting gig, you may not have caught the movie. However, whether you’ve seen it or not (and, children’s movie though it may be, I highly recommend it), the film is groundbreaking in the way it introduces mental health and education to kids at a young age.

A recent column in The Huffington Post about the stresses student-athletes face got me thinking back to when I tagged along with a friend and her kids to see Inside Out, and how the topic of mental health and recognizing different emotions early on is not only an awesome initiative, but needs to be brought to life and destigmatized throughout other stages of growing up.

Mental health for student-athletes has been an up-and-coming cause within the NCAA and across various sports outlets. For decades, society’s view of student-athletes has been that of macho-men and infallible women. We’ve labeled student-athletes as a group who seemingly have it all. However, the hardships and anxieties that come with adolescence, growing up, leaving home, and trying to perform your best both on the field and in the classroom, are very, very real for many student-athletes, and they are something we can’t remain naïve about or ignore any longer.

While celebrating student-athletes and their dedication to their sport – and all that they do for their respective schools – are things I believe in whole-heartedly, it’s time we also realize the very real need of mental health support for these rock star young men and women.



As colleges and their athletic departments begin to build programs for student-athletes (or continue to develop programs already in place), let’s take a look at some things student-athletes can do to get help and comfort in the field of mental health.

Ask about the availability of mental health services for student-athletes while you’re on your campus visit.

Even if you view yourself as perfectly happy, perfectly stable, and perfectly perfect when it comes to your mental health and how you cope with ups and downs, I implore you to still inquire about this topic and the help a school offers their student-athletes. Take their services into account when you decide where to attend.

While the obvious hope is for a student-athlete to never have to utilize such services, the reality is that mental health, not injuries, has been declared the number one health and safety concern across the NCAA. Feelings can sneak up on us when we least expect them to, and they can prove to be harder to shake then we ever imagined. Find out, in the event you ever need to lean on a professional, how that would work at the schools on your college list.

What to do if you’re a student-athlete already in college and want to talk about mental health.

Every team – or athletic department – should have a doctor on-hand for their student-athletes. The misconception is that this doctor is only there for physical injuries. However, he or she is also in place to get you the right kind of medical care, period, and that includes mental health care. While a team doctor may not be the most qualified person to help meet your mental health needs, they are the most qualified person to help in referring you to the right care.

If you’re feeling ready to seek help but a team doctor is not an option for you, head to the student health center at your school. The staff of nurses and doctors at student health centers are great with caring for young adults and at addressing the many health issues and concerns that come up on college campuses. As a student at the school, you have access to the health center and, after making an appointment (or walking in if it’s a true emergency), the right professional can be appointed to work with you and be a liaison to the appropriate personnel from your team.

Never underestimate the power of taking a walk with a friend.

This statement is not meant to make light of mental health – or to insinuate that all it takes to cure feelings of anxiety or depression is a conversation and cup of coffee with a friend. However, there is something to be said for taking small steps to help relieve yourself of some of the thoughts and feelings that you’ve perhaps been internalizing. Opening up to a friend will also provide a reminder that you have people who love you and are there to support you. Talking about such personal things may not be easy for you. In fact, it can be really hard.  However, when done with the right person, it can provide you with some instant relief and needed support.

The mental health services a school has available for student-athletes are just one part of finding the right academic, athletic, and social fit for you. We can help you to determine which other priorities will help you identify the right match. The best way to get started is with a NCSA recruiting profile!

Reclassifying & Recruitment

by Admitster October 13, 2015

As you may well know from this earlier post, Admitster’s friends over at NCSA Athletic Recruiting will be regular contributors to The Edge!  NCSA Athletic Recruiting helps high school athletes to connect with college coaches.  If you’d like to join NCSA’s college recruitment network, click here!  Their post today is on the topic of recruitment and reclassifying.  Confused?  You won’t be for long!  Read on…

Reclassifying. It’s been a hot topic in the world of recruiting for a few years now, and has recently been getting more and more attention as high school student-athletes choose to reclassify. The common question for many, and rightfully so, is this: What is reclassifying?

Reclassifying is a confusing concept with many varying rules, regulations, red tape, and fine print.

Let’s start with the basics.

How Reclassifying Could Change Your Recruiting

Reclassifying can mean a few things.

It can be when a student-athlete and their parents make the conscious choice to be “held back” in high school (and, in some states, as early as middle school). That is, it’s registering with a graduating class later than your original, with the intention of developing better grades and habits in the classroom or, from a sports perspective, giving a student-athlete another year to get bigger, stronger, taller, and more mature on the court, field, pool, diamond; you name it.

Reclassifying can also be when a student-athlete graduates from high school with their original class, but then puts off going to college in order to pursue an amateur sports career.

Lastly, and less popularly, reclassifying can mean choosing to graduate early from high school. This particular post, however, won’t consider this final type of reclassifying.



What Are The Advantages To Reclassifying?

The main advantages of reclassifying are viewed as the following:

  • A student-athlete will get an extra year to develop as a student and player. This could mean putting on more muscle mass or weight, becoming more experienced and sophisticated in his or her sport, and doing better academically by taking a course over or by developing better study habits.
  • If a student-athlete is injured, reclassifying would give him or her the obvious advantage of recovering from the injury and then getting back that year or season that they missed.
  • When it comes to recruitment, some believe that with major programs recruiting 2-3 years out, adding an extra year of player development will give their son or daughter an advantage with college coaches at big-time programs.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Reclassifying?

A few main disadvantages of reclassifying are:

  • Watching your friends and teammates – those whose class you were once in – graduate ahead of you.
  • Some student-athletes actually wind up under-performing after reclassifying because instead of upping their game, they simply fall back with the younger group they joined.
  • An extra year of school or prep school and club sports can be expensive for parents.
  • It’s complicated. There are many, many rules and regulations to follow and to be aware of in order to stay both eligible in high school and college.

What Are The Middle School And High School Rules Surrounding Reclassifying?

They vary by state and by type of school. Any student-athletes’ school or local district office will have the rules and regulations for reclassifying in that particular area.

It is imperative that, in conjunction with the school(s), when a student-athlete is exploring reclassifying options, he or she takes into account any and all NCAA rules and regulations as well.

Is Reclassifying Approved By The NCAA?

Yes, when the proper rules are followed.

First and foremost, academic requirements must be upheld by the student-athlete who is reclassifying, and dates in regards to eligibility and deadlines (in most cases according to sport) must also be upheld. Good places to start are with online resources and a meeting with your high school counselor.

I like these tips about reclassifying from our partners at AthNet:

  • Make sure that your academics are in order. Once you change the date you plan to graduate, either earlier or later, your options for fixing eligibility issues are reduced quickly.
  • Check to see if you are allowed to graduate early or to take classes after graduation. The need for tax dollars means that some schools limit or prohibit students from graduating early. The lack of tax dollars means that classes for students who have graduated are disappearing.
  • Be sure to complete your eligibility requirements in an academically sound manner. Graduating from high school early might seem like a good idea until rushing through school work leaves you ineligible.
  • Consider other aspects of high school. Graduating early might mean no prom, no graduation ceremony, or even no senior year. Going to prep school might mean watching friends go off to college while you stay behind.
  • Watch your athletic eligibility. Delaying your enrollment for more than a year or graduating early to focus on your sport before starting college can cause you to lose some of your eligibility.

The whole recruiting process is a tangle of confusing rules and regulations. Our NCSA scouts can help you with this and with other difficult questions you might confront. The best way to get started is by clicking here!

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