Is Your Child Prepared for College?

The college admittance process is not all about having the best stats in the classroom or on the golf course. College presents new challenges on and off the course that parents and junior golfers need to consider during their search and selection process. The lack of supervision, ample distractions, and a significant amount of unstructured time can be a disaster for some student-athletes if they’re not in the right environment. It can be devastating to a student’s self-esteem if they go to college unprepared, not to mention if they fail out, have to return home, and the financial repercussions.

Think bigger next time you think getting into college is all about having the best grades, test scores, junior golf rankings, and scoring averages. Instead, please focus on the preparation needed to make your child self-sufficient and ensure their safety and successful college life acclimation. For example, your child can have a 4.0 GPA and 36 on their ACT, but if they are not emotionally and socially mature, they are not guaranteed to be successful in college. Vice versa, your child could be a B/C average student in high school that is hardworking, has strong study skills, and is academically independent, each of which is transferable to being successful in college. Regardless of your child’s current situation, it is never too late to start learning, practicing, and refining these skills.

Two main factors determine your child’s preparedness for college: independent academic and life skills.

Does your child have independent academic skills?

  • Can your child initiate and complete their homework with minimal reminders?
  • Do they turn their work in on time?
  • Do they know how to study and adequately prepare for tests?
  • Do they over-rely on support from parents, teachers, and tutors?
  • Are they able to advocate for themselves and ask for help when needed?
  • Are they aware of personal academic strengths and weaknesses?

Has your child developed age-appropriate life skills?

  • Are they able to set the alarm and wake up on their own?
  • Do they go to bed at a decent time without being told?
  • Does your child know how to cook simple meals and do their laundry?
  • Do they know how to manage money – do they have a checking account and credit card?
  • Do they know how to be social and make friends?

Here are some suggestions of everyday examples of how to teach and practice these skills with your child:

  • Plan out the week – tests, assignments, due dates, extracurricular activities/practices
  • Use a planner or reminders on the phone to keep track of important deadlines
  • Contact a teacher about a missing assignment or ask for clarification on an assignment
  • Create a personalized study plan with a menu of study strategies (highlight notes, make flashcards, quiz yourself, etc.)
  • Plan a social gathering for friends, including a guest list, invitation, food, and entertainment
  • Give your child a grocery list with a budget and have them do the grocery shopping for the week
  • Have your child call and make their doctor appointments
  • Teach them how to do laundry and have them practice
  • Make a list of 5 simple recipes that they can learn how to cook

Parents tend not to want to see their children get hurt or fail. However, in doing so, they often enable their children and do not adequately prepare them for success in college and later in life. The first day of college shouldn’t be an “a ha” moment for incoming college students, let alone student-athletes. Just because your child has made it to college doesn’t always mean they are prepared and equipped to stay. If you value your investment, you’ll plan and prepare wisely, which often means double-checking the foundational skills.

Best of luck in your pursuits!

 

Sincerely,

Daniel Jermak – Founder, Albatross Junior Golf

Rachel Bretz – Educational Specialist, Albatross Junior Golf

Insights from a Current College Golfer

In November 2019, I met Noah Kumar while standing on the putting green at the Florida Junior Championship at Innisbrook Resort in Palm Harbor, Florida, home of the Valspar Championship on the PGA Tour. At the time, Noah was ranked No. 59 on Junior Golf Scoreboard and only days away from signing his National Letter of Intent to play college golf for the storied program at Florida Southern College.

Although Noah did not win that week, he finished t-4 in a star-studded group. In addition, Noah finished 3rd overall in the Florida State Golf Association Boy’s Player of the Year standings. While both are remarkable, that’s not what impressed me that week. Truthfully, Noah’s ability to withstand the squawking from other junior golfers sharing their disdain with his decision to play Division II Golf despite his notable junior golf rankings is what garnered my attention.

Over the past couple of years, Noah and I have had plenty of laughs over our first conversation and compliments of his choosing to do what he felt was best for his unique situation and not how his peers would perceive it. Recently, Noah mentioned something profound “Life is full of events that you can’t prepare for, and the only thing you can control is yourself and your emotions when faced with adversity. If there is a problem, you must think, “How can I get outcome X with problem Y.”

That mentality and thought process have helped and continue to help Noah develop as an elite player. Shockingly, he ranked outside the top 2000 during his sophomore year of high school. However, his character, tireless work ethic, and wisdom beyond his years have guided his quest to be the best. He would like to share his junior golf story with the next generation. Although we see where he is now, not everyone knows where his journey began.

Noah Kumar, Sophomore at Florida Southern College (Ranked #26 by Golfstat). Through a series of Q&A articles, Noah hopes of inspiring other junior golfers who aspire to play in college. Focus on the process and not always be so concerned about the product (ranking) because that is not the part of the story people will remember. Let’s jump into the questions:

When did you actively start your college search process?
I began my college search process in March of my sophomore year in high school.

Talk about your recruiting process, were you highly recruited?
I verbally committed relatively early, so I wasn’t highly recruited. During my recruiting process, I talked to Liberty University, the University of North Florida, and Florida Southern College. However, I didn’t rule out any schools because I wanted to keep my options open.

How much stock did you put in recruiting letters you received?
Every player gets a bit of an ego boost when they know they have college coaches looking into them. I was the same way, but I wanted to continue impressing coaches because I always wanted to improve.

How would you research schools?
I wanted to remain in the southeast or on the east coast for golf, so I researched schools in the region with quality golf and business programs.

Where did you start your research process for each school? (Environmental, Academic, Athletic)
I started my college search process with athletics. I wanted to play at a school where I could develop as a player and be on the starting lineup as soon as I got there.

Who did you connect with to learn more about the schools on your list? (Past players, Alums, etc.) 
I connected with past players from Florida Southern and had friends already on the team.

Talk about the transition to college golf, the environment, the talent, the time, the sacrifice, etc., versus being a junior player.
In my opinion, college golf is a lot tougher than what junior golfers might think. Most courses are set up difficult with tucked pins and firm and fast greens. Tournament hosts do this to separate the men from the boys. Everyone playing in college golf has some degree of talent. Therefore, the team or individual that wins that week is usually the strongest mentally and committed to each shot and trusts the process.

How important is it that a program has the best facilities – practice, courses, technology, fitness, mental coaching, etc.?
Every one of these aspects should be considered when looking into a program. Having quality practice facilities and courses is important to players on course development. Fitness and mental coaching are just as if not more important than having good practice facilities. Even if you are playing poorly in a tournament having a mental edge on everyone else keeps you in each round.

How many players on your team share the same academic major? If so, does that benefit you?
Yes, 12 of the 13 guys on the team are in the business program. We all help each other out if we’re taking the same class or have taken it in the past.

How did you earn the respect of the upperclassman when you got to campus?
I showed up to practice before everyone else did my freshman year, and I was almost always the last one to leave. I also played some pretty good golf in qualifying, so I think that sent a message that I wasn’t here to mess around and be a typical freshman. I wanted to contribute to the team as soon as I stepped foot on campus.

How do you manage your time as a student-athlete between your classes, studying, practice, workouts, tournaments, and social life?
I will write out my day on a sheet of paper and block off the time I need to do certain things each day. This system forces me to stick to a tight schedule and maximize my time. Once I finish all the things I need to do for myself, I will socialize.

What is the most challenging aspect of being a college athlete?
The most challenging part about college athletics is catching up on schoolwork when we miss 2-3 days for tournaments. It can sometimes take a week to catch yourself up, and this is extremely difficult to do in the spring when there is a tournament every other week.

What is the most challenging aspect of being a college student?
Being a college student isn’t too difficult as long as you apply yourself. Just show up to class, do the work, and understand the material you’re learning.

What three pieces of advice would you have for junior players who are going through the college search and recruiting process?

  1. Be a coachable player and learn to receive feedback from your coach(es).
  2. Surround yourself with people that will make you a better person at school and home, including on and off the golf course. You want to play with people who are keeping you competitive and share similar goals as you.
  3. Use social media as your marketing platform. College coaches will notice your improvements if you show progress in your golf, fitness, and overall work ethic.

In closing, connecting with current and past college golfers is a great way to ask questions and learn from those who have been or currently are where you want to be. Those conversations may seem uncomfortable at first, but it’s practice for discussions with future coaches and teammates. In addition, networking is an essential aspect of the college search and recruiting process. Herminia Ibarra, a professor at London Business School, said it well, “Networking is a lot like nutrition and fitness: we know what to do, the hard part is making it a top priority.”

Best of luck in your pursuits!

Sincerely,
Albatross Junior Golf

Why is Attending a College Tournament as a Junior Player so Important?

In the past two weeks, I have driven over 1,500 miles to an NAIA Men’s tournament in Memphis, Tennessee, an NCAA Men’s DII tournament in St. Louis, Missouri, and an NCAA Men’s and Women’s DI tournament in Little Rock, Arkansas, to watch some of the top teams and players in the country.

Do you want to know what shocked me most about the trip? I did not see a single potential student-athlete out watching any of the tournaments.  

With technology like Golfstat Live Scoring, YouTube, and social media making tournaments easily accessible, attending a college tournament in person may not be a priority. However, there is something to be said for experiencing a tournament firsthand.

For the junior golfers who make time to attend a college tournament:

Things to watch during the practice rounds:

  • What teams are organized and have a routine?
  • How are players interacting with one another? Is there a leader to the group?
  • What sort of strategy and tools are teams using to scout the course and plan for the tournament?
  • How are coaches working with their teams during the practice round? Are they observing at a distance or actively participating?
  • What vibes are you getting from each team, and which suits your personality best?

Things to watch during the tournament:

  • Which teams are highly focused, and which seem more laid back?
  • How are coaches interacting with players during the round? Does their style of coaching fit you?
  • What teams have the best attitude during the round and represent the type of teammates you work with best?
  • What teams have post-round discussions to analyze their play and find ways to help each other improve?
  • How are players on teams acting towards competitors, rules officials, and spectators?

Suggestions for after the tournament:

  • Write notes on what you learned and how you can use it to improve now
  • Start a journal with notes highlighting what you liked and disliked about each team
  • Do more roster research to find out which teams might have more immediate needs
  • Research the coaches who impressed you the most and write down a specific example to use in future conversations
  • Grab a scorecard and keep notes regarding the course setup and conditions during the tournament
  • Analyze tournament scores on Golfstat

In closing, taking the initiative to do what others may not provides opportunities to reference specifics in conversations with coaches and help to manage expectations based on real-time observations. There is no substitute for attending a college tournament. It can benefit your college search and recruiting process by giving you a front-row view of the action.

Best of luck in your pursuits!

Sincerely,
Albatross Junior Golf

For a complete list of college tournaments,

Developing an Effective Action Plan

Believe it or not, planning happens in your everyday life whether you realize it. But, more importantly, planning is inherent to all successful student-athletes and a skill that will serve you well, far beyond golf.

Today, more and more athletes are focusing on a single sport. The pressures from the investment of time, money, and energy can magnify the variety of highs and lows impacting a junior golfer over their career. Statistics indicate, 7% of High School Athletes compete on the collegiate level, and about 2% of those athletes earn some form of an athletic scholarship.

The reality is that plenty of highly talented junior golfers don’t achieve their dream of playing each year collegiately. Often this leaves many asking themselves what they could have done differently.

There are plenty of ways to approach the college search and recruiting process. Some choose to do it themselves, some have their academy do the heavy lifting, and some even use recruiting services.

Regardless of what approach you choose, the focus should be on developing an effective action plan that involves every team member supporting your junior golfer’s journey to becoming a student-athlete.

Why is an Essential Action Plan Important?

  • Gives clear direction
  • Highlights precise steps needed to accomplish goals
  • Creates specific tasks to assign responsibility and accountability
  • Provides an objective view and establishes a united vision
  • Allows for monitoring and the evaluation of progress

Identify your Goals

  • Specific – Clearly defined
  • Measurable – Establish checkpoints to assess progress
  • Realistic – Be reasonable to help manage expectations
  • Meaningful – Align goals to match the vision
  • Timely – Include a finish date

Write down the steps

  • Make sure each task is well defined
  • Incorporate feedback from the entire team
  • Assign action steps to key team members

Prioritize Tasks, Add Deadlines, and Set Mini-Goals

  • Order steps based on importance
  • Include achievable due dates
  • Build confidence by celebrating completed goals

Look at the Big Picture

  • Determine what resources needed during this process
  • Make a plan to acquire these resources that suits the budget
  • Be objective and create a clear vision understood by all

Monitor, Evaluate, and Update

  • Allocate time to evaluate and assess progress as a team
  • Resolve tasks that are pending or delayed
  • Revise and update the action plan accordingly

In closing, there is no substitute for planning, preparation, and hard work. Abraham Lincoln’s quote is a perfect example of having an effective action plan, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”

Best of luck in your pursuits!

Sincerely,
Albatross Junior Golf

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