Academic Planning

Understanding SAT Scores

Finding Alternatives to Scholarships for Student Athletes

Going to college on an athletic scholarship is a dream for many high school athletes, particularly if it means studying in and playing for their preferred school. However, statistics show that student athletes often find it difficult to receive full scholarships on athletic merits alone. Fortunately, alternative scholarships exist that allow students to receive their education while nurturing their athletic talents.

Statistics on Student Athletes

College athletic scholarships are a necessity for many student athletes. Majority of students and their families simply do not have the financial capacity to pay for a college education, considering that about 86% of athletes in college live below the poverty line. The average athlete playing for the NCAA pays around $3,000 in school-related costs every year. Any compensation they receive is usually given as cost-of-living stipends (ranging from $2,000 – $5,000 per year), hardship funds for emergencies and travel, and athletic scholarships. If the student’s family earns $35,000 a year, they can only contribute around $2,600 to cover for college costs annually. Compare this amount to annual college expenses that can easily top $20,000.

What Student Athletes Can Expect About Athletic Scholarships

A student athlete is not exactly guaranteed to receive a college education on an athletic scholarship. Even the numbers are not exactly encouraging. For example, an estimated 8 million students participate in athletics during high school. Of these, only around 500,000 will play at NCAA schools. From here, students hope to get a shot to compete in the major leagues but only a small percentage of college athletes will make the transition from NCAA to become professional athletes.

The NCAA Divisions

Colleges and universities are classified under one of three divisions in the NCAA or National Collegiate Athletics Association in the U.S. Of the three divisions, Division I or D-I is considered the highest intercollegiate athletics label under the NCAA. It includes 346 colleges and universities with 176,00 student athletes. Around 56% receive financial aid.

Division II or D-II, is represented by 307 colleges and universities. It has 118,000 student athletes, with 61% receiving athletics aid. By far the largest of the divisions is Division III or D-III, which includes 439 colleges and universities. This division has 187,000 student athletes, 82% of whom receive academic grants.

Typically, D-III schools are composed of smaller universities and private schools. As expected, the admissions requirements and academic levels expected from students are different from those required by D-I and D-II schools. Many of the most popular D-III schools are located in the Midwestern, Southern and Northeastern states.

Playing in the NCAA

Among high school seniors who play NCAA level basketball, only 3.3% are male and around 3.7% are female. Of these athletes, about 130,000 will be awarded either partial or full athletic scholarships. In 2008, an estimated 1 million young men played football in American high schools, and yet, around 28,000 of them were given a sports scholarship to pursue higher education in either a Division I or a Division II college.

A Look at the Figures

Many student athletes hope to receive a sports scholarship to get them through college but current figures suggest it may not always be enough. The average amount of athletic scholarship that a student can hope to receive is only around $10,400. If basketball and football are excluded, a student athlete can expect an athletic scholarship assistance to average at only around $8,700.

It is not a walk in the park for student athletes on sports scholarships, either. Once they become recipients of a sports scholarship, students are expected to work to keep it. Athletes who play for Division I colleges, for example, spend plenty of time in the court or on the field. Student athletes who play football, baseball and basketball can expect to spend as much as 40 hours a week playing, practicing and competing.

Why Choosing Division III Schools is a Good Option

Student athletes who attend D-III schools are not as focused on sports as students who pursue their education at D-I and D-II schools. Many student athletes who compete under the D-III banner do so because they love the sport and relish the competition. The prestige of playing for major D-I and D-II colleges and universities may not be present, but student athletes still enjoy an exciting learning environment where they can pursue higher education while participating in the sport they excel at. D-III schools host a wide number of sports, including the more popular ones such as basketball, baseball, volleyball and football, and less popular sports such as bowling, water polo, rowing and ice hockey.

Benefits of Playing for Division III Schools

Division III is like the youngest sibling in the NCAA and yet, it has become the largest college sports division. It currently has the most number of institutions and student athletes under its wing. In spite of these figures, Division III schools are viewed as the institutions where student athletes who failed to make the senior high school varsity team enroll in. The truth is that students go to Division III colleges may have different priorities and access to opportunities. Due to less pressure in upping their sports performance to keep a scholarship, D-III student athletes can focus on both academics and their preferred sport while interacting with other students in a community-like environment.

The main difference about Division III colleges and universities is that they do not grant athletic scholarships. As such, students who enroll in these schools need to build their credentials based on other forms of merit and not just in sports. Although sports-based financial aid is not available, students can expect to receive financial aid to cover their education costs via needs-based assistance and leadership grants. As such, student athletes with very good showing in academics and have other key accomplishments can still expect excellent financial support from these schools.

D-III schools are considered the lowest level in terms of competition but many D-II level and even D-I level athletes are enrolled here. Although some student athletes prefer D-III schools for the academics, many also consider the overall aid package these schools offer to be better. In fact, some D-III schools offer academics-based merit awards and other accomplishment-based aid that could reduce tuition costs by as much as 100%. In all, D-III schools offer both financial and academic awards that many student athletes prefer.

To learn more about the infographic created by Ohio University’s Online Masters in Coaching program.

Source: Ohio University

College Greenlight

We are a Community-Based Organization Partner with College Greenlight. Our students in Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, and Washington use their College Greenlight Profile to connect with colleges and scholarship providers.

Student Profile: Mikayla H., Class of 2015



Mikayla H.

Lake City High School
Lake City, SC

GPA: 4.63
Class Rank: 2/143
ACT: 25

President: Beta Club
President: LCHS Book Club
Drum Major: Marching Band
National Honor Society

Claflin University Honors College
Clemson University
Howard University
University of Maryland – Baltimore County
University of South Carolina – Columbia
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Xavier University of Louisiana 

Wait List:
Amherst College
Emory University
Trinity College

College Choice:
University of Maryland – Baltimore County
Major: Biochemistry/Molecular Biology
Aspirations: MD/Ph.D.

Davidson College
Smith College
Williams College

Major Scholarships:
Gates Millennium Scholar
Meyerhoff Scholar
Questbridge Finalist

Total Scholarship Offers:
$1.1 Million

What type of college did you want and why? 

Attending a college with a good science program was the most important part of the college experience for me. Secondarily, I wanted to attend a large university which is the complete opposite of my high school, but I thought it would be a good change for me. I wanted to attend a highly selective college, because they typically have more generous need-based financial aid policies.

What type of support did you receive during the college admissions process? 

Mr. and Mrs. Wynn guided me each step of the way through the college admissions and financial aid processes. They introduced me to the Questbridge Program, the Gates Millennium Scholars Program, and the Meyerhoff Scholars Program. They helped me research colleges and programs that best suited me as a person and guided me through the process of researching the grades and test scores I would need to be a competitive candidate for admission. Mrs. Wynn also helped me to prepare for my interviews with Yale, Cornell, Columbia, and the Meyerhoff Scholars Selection Weekend. The attorney from Yale Law School said that I was the best student he had ever interviewed, and I was one of only small group of students accepted into the prestigious and highly competitive Meyerhoff Scholars Program. They also helped me research scholarships and helped me through the process of completing the FAFSA. I also got help from my high school Guidance Counselors when submitting documents and help from teachers for proof reading and reviewing my work.

What was most stressful about applying to colleges? 

The most stressful part about applying to colleges was knowing that my test scores were just not up to par for some of the colleges that had the type of need-based financial aid policies. While my grade point average met the expectations of all of the colleges on my list, my 25 ACT Composite score was much lower than the median for such schools as Yale, Vassar, Swarthmore, and Williams, all of which rejected me—this after completing their lengthy applications and responding to all of their writing prompts.

What did you learn? 

I learned that although a college may be selective and highly ranked, there are other colleges with great programs that can be just as good or better than a highly selective college. I also learned how important it is to have a great overall ‘Self-Presentation!’ Mr. and Mrs. Wynn helped me to put all of the pieces together, essay, résumé, recommendation letters, interviewing skills, and communication with all of my colleges.

The Money Factor! 

Thanks to the help of Mr. and Mrs. Wynn, my guidance counselors and many teachers, I have been selected as a 2015 Gates Millennium Scholar —the first one from the Florence County School District Three and the town of Lake City, South Carolina. GMS funding will help pay for 5 years of undergraduate school, 2 years of graduate school, and 4 years of my doctoral program.

What do you wish you had done differently? 

I wish I would have known to prepare earlier to get higher test scores so I could have gotten into more of the highly selective colleges.

What is your advice? 

My advice is to begin researching colleges as you enter high school so you will know the grades and test scores expected by the colleges. Also, do as much community service as possible, become a leader throughout high school, and take as many of the college courses and AP courses offered at your school. Your grades and coursework will be extremely important in making you a competitive candidate for admission at highly selective colleges and may qualify you for thousands of dollars in scholarships. Finally, get help! The college admissions and financial aid processes are hugely complicated. Without the support and guidance of our College Planning Cohort, I would not have reached beyond Clemson and the University of South Carolina. I have already experienced more in the Meyerhoff Scholar Summer Bridge Program at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County than in my wildest dreams. By the time I actually begin my freshman year, I will have visited the National Institutes of Health, Johns Hopkins Medical Center, the U.S. Army Research Center, laid out my 4-year course schedule, and prepared my internship application for my summer internship between my freshman and sophomore year.  My Advice is, “Don’t try to do this by yourself!”



Starting a College Planning Book Club

Activity: Starting a College Planning Book Club

Through our work with schools and school districts throughout the United States and in Bermuda we are providing important college admissions and financial aid guidance to thousands of students and parents. However, there are simply too many students and families continuing to lack access to sufficient college planning information within their schools and communities. Subsequently, we were inspired by Patrick Johnson, Director of Equity and Excellence, in the Tacoma Public Schools, and his work in creating book clubs for elementary and middle school students.

Click here to see the Tacoma Public Schools Book Club video:

We have followed Patrick’s lead and now support College Planning Book Clubs in schools, churches, and communities throughout the country to ensure that more students and families have access to important college admissions and financial aid planning information.

In addition to the foundational texts, A High School Plan for Students with College-Bound Dreams (book and workbook), used to begin each book club, we provide monthly activities to guide the reading and research of book club members. In addition to the Starting a College Planning Book Club activity that you may download to guide your efforts in starting a book club, following are some of the activities that book clubs have received during 2014 to guide their efforts.

Activity 1: A Context for the Conversation


Develop a context for the many conversations that will occur between you, the student, and your parents, teachers, counselors, coaches, mentors, tutors and anyone assisting you with conceptualizing your college-bound plans.

Guiding Questions

  • What is my plan to maximize my 2 million minutes of high school?
  • What is my anxiety level based on where I am in the college planning process?

Activity 2: My Student Profile


Develop a student profile to focus your college and financial aid research.

Guiding Questions

  • What is my current student profile?
  • How can I compare my profile to those of other students?
  • How can I use my profile to guide my scholarship research?

Activity 3: High School Graduation Requirements


Ensure that you are fully aware of your progress toward fulfilling your state high school graduation requirements and that you understand the requirements for state sources of financial aid.

Guiding Questions

  • What are my state’s high school graduation requirements?
  • What are the course requirements for admission into the state university system?

Activity 4: Self-assessment—My Gifts and Talents


Perform a self-assessment of your gifts and talents and identify those areas that may be further developed during high school to qualify for merit-based scholarships or to expand your college admission opportunities.

Guiding Questions

  • What are my gifts and talents and am I working hard enough to develop them to the level necessary to influence college admissions and scholarship opportunities?
  • Am I maximizing opportunities within my school and community to develop my gifts, earn recognition, and serve in leadership roles?

Activity 5: Whom Do I Need on My Team?


Determine the college planning support you currently have or will need.

Guiding Questions

  • How competitive will it be to gain admission into top colleges?
  • How much work will be required to develop a high quality college application package?
  • Who are the people or what are the programs from which I will require support?

Activity 6: Developing My College List


Develop a list of colleges that will provide the context for your college planning activities and conversations.

Guiding Questions

  • What type of college, i.e., large institutions, liberal arts, highly competitive, special focus schools (e.g., visual arts, music, theatre arts, HBCUs, military service academies, etc.) community colleges, or technical schools would I like to attend?
  • Where can I research information about the colleges on my list and identify similar types of colleges?
  • What are the benefits of pre-college programs, Honors Colleges, and Study Abroad programs?

Activity 7: Self-reflection and Self-assessment


Engage in a self-reflective and honest self-assessment of your level of competitiveness in the college admissions and scholarship application processes.

Guiding Questions

  • How do I compare to the type of students who apply to the colleges on my list?
  • What is the Common Data Set?

Activity 8: AP, IB, and Dual/Joint Enrollment


  • Understanding the impact of Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB), and Dual/Joint Enrollment on college admissions.
  • Understanding how to research the potential tuition savings of AP, IB, and Dual/Joint Enrollment classes.

Guiding Questions

  • What are the AP, IB, and Dual/Joint Enrollment options at my high school?
  • Which program is most closely aligned with my college and career aspirations?
  • What are the potential tuition savings for each program?

Activity 9: Course Work and Teacher/Counselor Evaluations


  • Developing your high school course schedule.
  • Identifying what will be required to receive the highest teacher/counselor evaluations.

Guiding Questions

  • What level of course work is expected by the colleges and universities to which I am planning to apply?
  • What type of academic assistance is available to support my enrollment in the classes I am planning to take?
  • What personal qualities will my teacher and counselor be evaluating?

Additional college planning book club activities will be posted as they are released.

Click here to download the Starting a Book Club Activity…

Kenessaw State Summer Camps


The Summer University experience is an engaging combination of learning and enjoyment. Each summer, our courses are designed to give students an opportunity to explore their creativity, challenge their minds and build new friendships. From rising 1st graders to 12th graders, there are courses for every age!

The setting and subjects are academic, and the tone and atmosphere is lively and fun! Choose a summertime activity for your kids that fills their free time with hands-on learning opportunities, entertainment and camaraderie. Whatever the age, whatever the interest, there are SummerU classes that meet the needs of your kids.

Extended Care Camp is available until 6:00pm.  Campers will be provided with a healthy snack and several choices of activities to extend the fun of their camp day.

Note: When registering a child for a class, be certain that you use the child’s name and ID, not your own.

2017 SummerU Schedule

SummerU FAQs

SummerU Waiver Form

Behavior Management Guidelines

Summer University Webinar April, 2016


Disney Dreamers Academy

The Disney Dreamers Academy is a 4-day, power-packed event in which 100 select high school students, ages 13-19, are inspired, motivated and prepared to dream big. Disney Dreamers experience:

  • Inspirational guest speakers with immersive presentations
  • Career activities ranging from animation, journalism and entrepreneurship, to culinary arts and zoology

The Disney Dreamers Academy takes place at the Walt Disney World® Resort in Orlando, Florida. Conducted on stage and behind the scenes, the theme parks become vibrant “classrooms” where Dreamers imagine bright futures, make exciting discoveries and learn how to put their plans into action.

Dreamers are creative, eager to learn and dedicated to pursuing their dreams with passion. If you have what it takes and you are between the ages of 13-19, you live in the United States of America and you are enrolled in high school grades 9-12 when entering, apply here!

Disney seeks students with a winning combination of attributes that reflect strong character, positive attitude, and persistence to take advantage of opportunities.

Key Attributes:

  • Intellectually curious – Creative and quick-witted
  • Compassionate – Gives to others who need their assistance
  • Courageous – Overcomes obstacles, brave, spirited, survivor
  • Leader – The “go-to” person, pursues ideas with passion


  • Dreams about their future
  • Positive approach to life
  • Grateful and humble
  • Takes advantage of resources

Does this sound like someone you know? We’re looking for Dreamers for next year’s Disney Dreamers Academy, so they can get the tools to help make their dreams come true. Follow the Dreamers Academy on Facebook and Twitter for updates.


Why Should Faith and Community Organizations Get Involved?

In my recent post, “The Role of Faith- and Community-based Organizations in Expanding College Access” I provided important insight as to why high school counselors simply do not have the time to provide the necessary, and critically important, college admissions and financial aid guidance for students. However, the following article regarding the Camden Public Schools (New Jersey), which only had 3 graduating high school seniors to score high enough on the SAT to be considered “college ready,” further illustrates how dire the situation is for students in school districts throughout the country. What role are faith- and community-based organizations in Camden, NJ accepting to ensure that students have access and opportunities despite the failings of the public school district?

By Julia Terruso, Inquirer Staff Writer

POSTED: December 19, 2013

CAMDEN Camden schools superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard embarked on what he said was a “listening tour” after he was named to the post in August.

On Tuesday, the state-appointed leader relayed to the school board and the community what he had heard from parents, teachers, and students in the struggling district and learned from test scores and other data.

One of the most startling statistics, prompting groans from meeting attendees, was that only three students of all those in high school who took the SAT in 2013 tested as college-ready as defined by the College Board.

Rouhanifard called that number a “kick-in-the-stomach moment.”

“It is OK if all of our students don’t end up with a four-year diploma. There are two-year associates out there, vocational opportunities, multiple pathways to success in life, and I deeply believe that,” he said.

“But we can do better than three students. We know we can do better than just three students. We know we have to do better than three students.”

He also noted deep concerns among the people he talked to over school safety and the quality of education.

He called the responses unsurprising in a district where 23 out of 26 schools have been labeled failing and only 53 percent of students graduate from high school.

The struggles of the district prompted the state to take it over in June, relegating the school board to an advisory role.

But participation at his four town hall meetings and eight focus groups showed an interest among residents in helping solve the problems, Rouhanifard said.

Rouhanifard visited all 26 district schools and met also with small groups of parents, students, and staff.

Student complaints mostly had to do with safety in and out of schools, facility conditions, limited access to technology, low expectations from teachers, and teacher retention, Rouhanifard said.

Teachers reported a lack of curriculum and instructional support, too much paperwork, disparities in pay scale, and a lack of parental involvement, he said.

A key desire among parents was an easier pathway to engaging with schools.

In a step toward achieving that, Rouhanifard announced that the district would waive a $75 fee parents have had to pay to cover the cost of a background check in order to volunteer. The background checks will still be conducted but not at parental cost.

A district-wide plan, taking into account the tour’s findings, will be released in January, Rouhanifard said.

But given the alarm over safety – a report released in the fall showed half of elementary-age students feel unsafe in hallways and bathrooms – the district already has completed a security audit, updated security plans, and along with the Camden County Police Metro Division, has installed a safe corridors program.

The board also approved an auditors report for 2013 that found 11 deficiencies compared with 14 last year.

Among the issues was a failure to comply with certain public school contract laws and grant requirements.

The 2013 fiscal year ended June 30.

Board Vice President Martha Wilson lamented that numerous deficiencies were repeated: “This is three years ago. . . . If I was working in the business world, this wouldn’t happen; things that happen here can’t happen anywhere else.”


The Role of Faith- and Community-based Organizations in Expanding College Access

The photograph pictures a group of parents attending a Saturday morning workshop at a local Cobb County school, being presented by Turner Chapel AME Church Education Ministry Leader, Mychal Wynn. The 4-hour workshop is focused on increasing k-12 student academic achievement in preparation for expanding students’ college access and scholarship opportunities.

The importance of such faith- and community-based programs is reinforced in the Time Magazine article, “The High School Guidance Counselor Shortage,” by Timothy Pratt:

Campbell High School (Cobb County Georgia) counselor Jamie Ryder’s determined cheer interrupts the half-asleep, early morning silence of a dozen ninth-graders crammed into a small classroom as she launches into a 90-minute talk about their future.

The challenges facing Ryder soon become clear. When she asks about her students’ goals, one hand goes up. Then a low voice in the back of the room wisecracks, ‘Be a drug dealer.’ A while later, when the students sit at computers and fill out a questionnaire to help determine what courses of study and careers would be good for them, several struggle with the words on the screen. This is probably the only time that many of these students will see her or any other counselor for at least a year.

Campbell High, in Smyrna, Georgia, is trying to counteract a vexing but largely unseen problem facing public schools across the country: There is a shortage of competent counselors at a time when getting into college is more expensive, more confusing and more important than ever.”

The article goes on to note some astonishing statistics and why “complaining” about public schools will do little to help our children:

  • The average public school counselor is responsible for 471 students
  • California public high school counselors are responsible for as many as 500 students
  • Georgia public high school counselors are responsible for as many as 512 students

Public high school counselors are also required to perform many jobs that are unrelated to college planning or providing college admissions information to students and families. The reality is that most public school students will receive tragically little college preparation, admissions, scholarship, or financial aid guidance from their high school counselor.

In contrast, private school counselors are responsible for far fewer students (around 100), have less job responsibilities, and may focus the majority of their time on assisting students and families with college preparation and admissions.

Faith- and community-based organizations must draw on their resources of retired educators, parents who have navigated their children’s way into college, current college students, recent college graduates, and community partners to close the college-knowledge gap. Where else are our children to turn?

Read the article…