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A Mother's Thoughts
On The College Selection Process

The following is a thread from our message boards, the topic offers ideas and comments about the college selection process, including the option of playing baseball. It is a wonderful commentary, from a mother's point of view, and far too insightful and valuable to be lost -- so we saved it and reprint it here.
Carrot Top
posted November 08, 2001 11:26 AM

Maybe I'm offering a little different perspective here out of sheer ignorance about the process (this is my only son, my final child who will be entering college, so this is my first and only time around riding the "sports recruiting roller coaster") ,and maybe I'm way off base from what all the other posters have said. But all I know is what I can see my son going through right now, and the truth is he has NO clue what he wants to do or what he feels comfortable with in a school or its baseball program because it is still "the unknown."

I have a daughter who is a sophomore in college, who did her research and chose her school carefully 2 years ago based on her goals to become a veterinarian (at the time of HS graduation, she was already a certified veterinary technician). My husband and I thought we had her "settled" for 4 years, and she was convinced she had made the right choice at the time. Now her goals have changed and she is considering transferring to another university, and so the college search begins anew in her sophomore year of college. Knowing her, she will do even more research, and more carefully choose her second college, but the difference now is that she has a whole different set of criteria to rely on because she has actually EXPERIENCED college classes, professors, good grades and bombed tests, dorm life, apartment life, how it feels to be lost at a huge university until one joins clubs, etc. My son has watched this, and has come to the conclusion that even the most careful choice is still "a stab in the dark" to some extent, and I think he is right!

The only difference between my daughter's situation and my son's is that a National Letter of Intent will tie him to college and a baseball program for 4 years (if he can make the team), and he won't be as free to change his mind and goals as our daughter has been, without suffering some real consequences.

Bob Note: The LOI stipulates that a player is bound to the tenants of the LOI agreement for one (1) year, not four. But that is not the real point of this topic -- just offering a clarification.

We are also keenly aware that even a National Letter of Intent and some scholarship money won't guarantee that he will actually have playtime at ANY college---there can always be a new "golden boy" recruited in the years following his recruitment, and this new "golden boy" could send him to the bench, leaving him stuck with a college who might not use him as a baseball player. Then, taking this logic further, if each high school graduation year offers up new "golden boys" for college teams, one can be assured that there will be new "golden boys" each year in the pros, and how much more fierce the competition is at that level! 2001's Mauer and Prior will be forgotten temporarily because of the hype over the 2002 #1 and #2 draft picks, and on and on it goes, and Mauer and Prior will have to make their best "stab in the dark" and compete accordingly.

I only know two things:

  1. This whole process of recruiting goes to a kid's head to some extent. All the letters and the phone calls, all the "We think a lot of you as a player" lines coming from multiple coaches, the visits, money negotiations, etc. are very overwhelming to a 17 or 18 yr old. He is caught up in the hype, thinking that if these schools want him NOW, surely more schools will LATER, and so he is always trying to wait for "greener grass". So my husband and I try to remind him to forget the illusionary hype because he is only "today's golden boy", soon to be made to compete with last year's golden boys and next year's golden boys.


  2. He needs to choose a school even more carefully than his sister did because he might be signing a contract with someone, committing to stay at the college he chooses. We are trying to impress upon him that contracts are binding documents. So what if the coach decides to leave---he still has to stay. So what if a new "golden boy" competes better than my son does for his spot and wins the position---he still has to stay. So what if he finds, in hindsight, that he would have liked a smaller university environment than the one he is presently in---he still has to stay. So what if he decides to change his major, and his present school doesn't offer much in that major---he still has to stay. We are trying to impress upon our son that signing on the dotted line means going the distance, because walking away or transferring schools might mean the end of baseball for him.


In the end, my husband and I are asking our son to concentrate on two things when making a decision on a school----
a) Would he like the school even if there were no baseball and
b) Is he looking at a level of baseball in which he can effectively compete for playtime, ie, does he think after watching the present team and his position's competition that he is willing to persevere with training and improvement as a player to win and KEEP an active roster spot. Frankly, I don't care whether or not I can brag about my son playing at the DI level, or how much of a "ride" he can negotiate (although with some money would definitely help since our daughter is in college also), and I wouldn't think any less of him if he decided on a little DIII school. All we are asking of him is to make his best educated "stab in the dark", and to be ready to EARN his way from there, both on the academic front and the athletic front.

As parents, I believe it is wrong to let a kid decide all by himself or with the parents just as "moral support" --- I don't think a senior in high school has the experience needed to make such a big life decision alone. We parents are supposed to be the ones who know our sons better than anyone, and it is up to us to get our heads out of the recruiting hype, tell our sons that no matter what, they will always be "golden boys" to us, and use our own memories of college and other life experiences to help our sons make their best "stab in the dark", tailored according to their personal needs and personalities.

For example, my son is being recruited by Dartmouth College, and while that is a real bragging point (DI program, Ivy League, they picked my son out at a showcase for his talent, they are recruiting him from half a continent away from where he lives, etc), in my "heart of hearts" I truly believe that Dartmouth College is the wrong place for my son, based on his personality, his humble upbringing, and his study habits, regardless of anything about baseball. My son really wants to try to get into Dartmouth, and I think that is fine, but when it all comes down, I will use my influence to steer him another way.

Another school heavily recruiting him is the Air Force Academy. I'm looking long and hard at that one, trying to judge whether that could be a fit based on what I uniquely know about my son as a person. Then on the other hand, he is being recruited by some small DIII schools that want him badly. A couple of those look like perfect fits for him. The point is, if I (at my age), can't decide between all the choices of schools he has, how can I really expect him to be wise enough to make the perfect choice?

Let's not be afraid to be our sons' parents. I know it is the boy who has to live with in the college (or pro environment) according to his choice, but don't we as parents live with it too? A wise person once said to me that if I don't watch OUT FOR AND OVER my child, who else will care enough to?

Here's hoping that all our sons take their best "stab in the dark" with our help.


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