Sports Scholarship, but Bad Grades

Our expert advises a high school senior about possible next steps.
I'm 18 years old and unsure what to do after I graduate high school. I have an opportunity to play basketball on a full scholarship at a major university pending my cumulative GPA and SAT scores. The past 4 years have been rough for me and I didn't work as hard as I could have. My mom took me to a counselor and he said I was an underachiever.

Here's my problem: My GPA is slightly below 2.0 and, no matter how many times I take it, I can't get a decent score on the SAT. I've always been a poor test-taker. What do I do now?

Why do you want to go to college? Is it primarily to play basketball, while you attend college for free on a full scholarship? Your GPA is working against you, as are your SAT scores. You can't expect to turn around your last four years of poor academic performance with some last-minute heroics.

I would consider two approaches to your academic future. The first option is a 13th year at a private prep school, where you could show how serious you were about learning and school, and prove to yourself and colleges that you now have a different attitude about learning. This would give you a full academic year to demonstrate your worth as a student and to prove your commitment to academic pursuits. Any university would be impressed with this choice and I would bet that the university that offered you a scholarship would probably offer it again after your 13th year.

Your second option is to do as well as you can in your remaining classes, using the help of professional tutors if needed. You can also take and do well in summer classes to show the college your dedication to improving your knowledge and study skills. I would also recommend that you schedule interviews with admissions officers at this college. Meeting you in person might persuade the admissions board to give you a chance and not reject you based solely on your academic record and test scores.

May I also remind you that a four-year scholarship offer based upon your need to make the first team and maintain a certain GPA places a lot of pressure on you. If you manage to get into this one school, are you adequately prepared to meet these requirements? You have many serious questions to ask yourself about applying to colleges. Additionally, I think meeting with a professional college counselor (not your high school counselor) would be most helpful as you plan your college-application process.

Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

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