If a student wants to participate in collegiate athletics, getting into top physical condition is important.
However, if a student-athlete isn't in good shape academically, his or her physical condition doesn't matter.
There are three important variables to consider when it comes to being academically eligible to participate in college sports:
Completion of a required number of NCAA-approved core courses.
Test score results from either the ACT or SAT.
Grade-point average in only the NCAA-approved core courses.
Just like adults have to be truthful with themselves about their credit history when trying to qualify for a loan, student-athletes have to be honest about their academic standing.
Thankfully, the NCAA Clearinghouse has done a good job of helping athletes negotiate this path. The NCAA Clearinghouse basically verifies you meet the requirements in the three variables mentioned above: core courses, GPA and test scores.
The process matches your GPA from the core courses with your best scores from the SAT (just math and critical reading) or ACT tests. It's called gaining "initial eligibility" by the NCAA.
For Division I there is a sliding scale which matches your test score and GPA. With a core GPA of 2.85 you are qualified if you make a minimum total score of 56 on the ACT. If your GPA is lower, you have to make a better score on the test. If your GPA is high, then the test score can be lower.
Since many people struggle with standardized tests, it's important to maintain a high GPA.
For Division II eligibility, a minimum score of 820 on the SAT or 68 on the ACT is required.
It is important to know where an athlete stands in terms of the clearinghouse. Athletes obviously want to know if they meet initial eligibility requirements, but it is just as important to know in which facets a high school student needs to improve.
Some of the best high school athletes fall short of these eligibility standards not because they are necessarily bad students now, but because they did not take care their education seriously enough early in their high school careers.
Once a student athlete has received initial eligibility from the NCAA Clearinghouse, that prospect is allowed to take official "expenses paid" visits to colleges and universities.
Tensey Pricer runs the high school site PelicanPreps.com covering the entire state of Louisiana.