How many times have you heard students or parents say, "I want (them) to possibly play college ______."? Fill in that blank with whatever sport fits.
Having aspirations to play a sport at a collegiate level isn't a bad goal by any means! Although, the motivation behind this goal needs to be finely dissected.
Receiving a full tuition scholarship to any college for athletics is HUGE, but you, or your child, could be one injury away from that scholarship disappearing. This is why I like to make sure that students are pursuing college athletics for the love of the sport and not for the financial incentives...
Let's think about what led to that level of play...private lessons, camps, etc. If the child/young adult is loving every second of the sport and growing, that activity is worth every penny! I love Andre Agassi, but I'm not trying to develop players who resent the sport in the moment (for those of you who haven't read Open, Agassi hated tennis as a child).
So here's the value proposition: What would happen if we took that $ for lessons/activities for a child who doesn't love them and invested them in a low cost 529 plan? Let's create a case study:
Let's say the child is 8 yrs old. Let's say their parents are pretty intense about playing college _____. They have 2 private sessions and 3 clinic trainings a week. Let's say that comes to maybe $200 / week for simple math. If we take that and compound it over 10 years with an annualized 8% rate of return to be conservative, we end up with almost $40,000. That could be enough for an entire 4 yrs at a great, in-state school. Even better, if they get a scholarship for athletics or academics, that could go towards a great start to their future life after college!
Say we even take someone who is loving the sport and thinks they'd like to play college. We keep them playing so they're still improving but lower that weekly cost to $100 and invest the other $100. We are still creating athletic/social value and we end up with almost $20,000 after 10 years.
The lesson here isn't to neglect sports or activities! It's to think deeper about wether your child is truly loving the activity they are in. If so, awesome! Keep it up! If not, find another activity that they may be interested in!
Most importantly, make sure that if you want your child to attend higher education, you prepare for that cost. Unless we have a bust in the education system (which could happen), college isn't getting cheaper. The good news is, we have a lot of tools at our disposal to make sure that our children don't end up drowning in student loan debt.
Please feel free to comment or reach out privately if you'd like any advice regarding college athletics, or financially preparing for college!
I certainly could have played the college game a lot better, and I want to help others succeed in that aspect!
Thank you all for reading and I hope you learned something valuable! :)