School me on D3 softball

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May 13, 2008
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My daughter has a couple schools on her list that are D3. She isn't set on going to a D1 school but would rather go to a smaller school where she can get a good education. To be honest, after visiting a couple of the smaller schools, they are the kind of school I would like to see her at. They are schools that have good programs in what she wants to study and the schools have great reputations. I'm just unclear about a few things.
1. D3 offers no athletic scholarships. Scholarship dollars are all academic. I get that. My daughter is doing great in the classroom. So my question is, if she goes to a D3 school that is $40,000 a year, how much can good grades knock off? I know it's hard to tell without more info...just trying to get some idea.
2. Isn't there a chance she could go to a D2 that is that same price as the D3, and get just as much scholarship money from the D2 as the D3? The only difference would be D2 is academic/athletic dollars and the D3 is all academic dollars.
3 She is being contacted by one school already as a junior. Let's say she decides to go there. Is she really committing to anything other than her education? You can't verbally commit or sign to a D3 school can you? I mean, couldn't she just apply to the school, show up on day 1 of classes and try out for the team, or is the coach actually holding a spot for her? I'm thinking it is more just her telling the coach she is coming, and they waiting for her to register at the school. Does a D3 coach actually have a list of incoming recruits?
 
May 25, 2010
1,070
0
I don't know your financial position, but it's never too soon to start researching non-athletic scholarship funding options, even though she hasn't picked a school yet.

Once she selects her school, then she can compete for school-specific scholarships.

D3 coaches aren't out actively recruiting players. My friend said she selected the school and then let the coach know she was coming at which point she was invited to try out. Other situations may be similar or not.
 

sluggers

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
7,126
113
Dallas, Texas
My daughter is doing great in the classroom. So my question is, if she goes to a D3 school that is $40,000 a year, how much can good grades knock off?

Probably 25% or so. But, it depends quite a bit on your FAFSA and the school's financial resources.

A place like University of Chicago has so much money that, if your DD gets in, it won't cost you anymore than if your DD went to a state school. Check out the schools' endowments.

Isn't there a chance she could go to a D2 that is that same price as the D3, and get just as much scholarship money from the D2 as the D3?

Yes. A D2 will probably cost less, but your DD might bet more money from a D3.

You can't verbally commit or sign to a D3 school can you?

Right.

I mean, couldn't she just apply to the school, show up on day 1 of classes and try out for the team, or is the coach actually holding a spot for her?

The coach is actually holding a spot for her. The coach does what every college coach--he/she tries to recruit players to fill specific needs on the team. When a need is filled, he/she moves on to the next need.

The coach wants your DD because she is [[INSERT POSITION]]. If your DD doesn't tell the coach she is going to the school, the coach will recruit someone else to play [[INSERT POSITION]].

If your DD doesn't tell the coach she is coming, she shouldn't be surprised if another girl shows up that the coach recruited and is higher on the pecking order than your DD. Your DD might be a better player than the other girl, but the coach may have made "promises" to the other girl.

But, generally D3 recruiting kicks into gear in the winter of your DD's senior year. By then, all the D1 and D2 money has been passed out, and the kids and parents know their options. So, that is usually when parents and kids get serious about D3... "Is is better to take a 25% ride at State University or a 35% academic scholarship at Small D3? Do I like a campus of 50,000 kids or a campus of 5000 kids?"

I suspect the coach at the D3 school is trying to tell your DD, "Hey, we like you a lot. Keep us on your short list. Remember us." He/she probably knows that if your DD gets a full ride to UCLA, she'll take it. But, once you and your DD realize that ain't going to happen, then you and her will probably take a serious look at what is best for your DD.

Finally:

You really have to talk to your DD about what she wants after college. Her college education is money in the bank. It is something she will use everyday for the rest of her life.
 
Last edited:
May 7, 2008
8,501
48
Tucson
My son went to U of Chicago. :)

Anyway, she could also look at the smaller D1 schools, that are state schools. What state is she in?
 
May 7, 2008
468
0
Morris County, NJ
As I've come to learn from reading here and in other locations:

1. Academic Aid is assigned for 4 years, Athletic Aid is assigned and evaluated (and perhaps adjusted) annually.
2. If DD is interested in a D III experience and is on the cusp academically, athletics can tip the Admissions offer in her favor. The schools that field softball teams look to field a competitve team and do not want to be embarrassed by fielding a poor performing squad. An athlete who can help the team be competitve and can stay academically eligible is a player the coach will be looking for.
3. In the D III, DD will perhaps have a better opportunity to pursue her chosen academic field of study. The goal in D III is to graduate on time and place into employment their student/athletes.

Best of Luck.
 
Jul 9, 2010
289
0
A couple of items, that hopefully will help.

My DD plans to be a biomedical engineer. She has just started her senior year in HS. As with most kids, last summer was her big recruiting year. We talked to a number of schools, mostly D1 and D3, because there didn't seem to be too many D2's with biomed as a degree option.

She has been very clear on her career objectives since about her sophomore year in HS. She has specific things she intends to do with this degreee, and getting that degree is her number one objective in college. With that said, she has played 18A travel ball since she was in 7th grade, we have been to all of the big showcase tourneys, and he is as serious about softball as she is about her career goals.

At a couple of the D1's we visited (who are well known for their academics, and won't be named here), they told her she would have to pick an easier major. They were interested in her as a player, but they told us straight out that softball takes too much time, and she might have to switch to something a little less intense, like biology. Given her motivations post-college, that was not at all interesting to her, and we crossed those schools off the list. Better to find out on unofficial visits than signing day.

After talking to her pitching coach about it (former college coach), she recommended we really give a few of the D3's a good look. Until that point, we had not really considered that, and had focused exclusively on D1 schools in terms of our recruiting efforts. Over the summer, schools came and went, and she ended up with a few D1's and a few D3's left by about August. We visited each of those schools, and talked to them specifically about her major, her softball future, study hall requirements, tutoring, weight lifting, off-season training, etc, etc. - all the questions a recruit should be asking on unofficial visits.

After all of that, much to my surprise, she picked a D3 school as her top choice.

We went to visit the admissions staff, and talked to them about financial options. In her case, she has a very strong academic record, good grades, and good test scores. The school costs about 40k/yr, and we were told we could expect about 20k. About a week later, they called and asked her to come back and talk to another admissions counselor. After that, they told us that they were going to recommend her for some of their highest awards levels, which could help bridge the gap betweeen the 20k and a full ride. It's important to know, though, that this is not binding in any way until her application is approved and final financial aid decisions are made.

I will say, modestly, her academics are what will earn her financial help at this school, and at this point it appears as though it will work out well for her.

Even with that, I have to say, though, I was a bit queasy about her calling some D1 coaches, and telling them she had verballed to a D3, mostly because of the potential financial implications. But, at the end of the day, I told her to pick the college for the college. If she burns out, gets hurt, or otherwise gives up softball, she has to want to get a degree from the school she goes to. Based upon that, and the fact that she really likes the coach at the school she committed to, she made her choice, and we are all in as a family to make this work out.

So, the moral is, if there's a will, there's a way. This may or may not be the case at other schools, I don't know. I can only relate our experience so far at this one.

BTW -as far as recruiting - D3's recruit like everyone else. This coach first contacted her in October of her junior year. He saw her playing, saw her academics (which we put on our team brochures for showcase tourneys), and let her coach know he was interested in her. A couple of other D3 programs did the same thing in Fall of her junior year. So, when we visited campus for our admissions interview (in summer before her senior season), he was looking for her to verbal. At many top D3 programs, there is no such thing as showing up for classes and walking on to the softball team and having any expectation of being on the team. The athletes were recruited to be there, and the roster is filled on purpose a year in advance, like at a mid-major or smaller D1.

So, I would say to treat the D3 programs the same as you would the D1's, because you never know where things will end up. When this school first contacted her a year ago, I was sure she would end up at one of the D1's we were talking to at the time.

Hope that helps in some way.
 
May 7, 2008
8,501
48
Tucson
"they told her she would have to pick an easier major. They were interested in her as a player"

Thank goodness they were honest with her! That isn't always the case.

And you know what, if your DD goes to the D3 a year, and it isn't for her, she can always transfer.

She did well.
 

sluggers

Super Moderator
Staff member
May 26, 2008
7,126
113
Dallas, Texas
Good points by jacketsfan.

t many top D3 programs, there is no such thing as showing up for classes and walking on to the softball team and having any expectation of being on the team.

My DD#3 played hoops for one of the top D3 basketball programs in the US. The coach had open tryouts, but the only "open positions" were for the bottom two spots on a 15 player team.

(in summer before her senior season), he was looking for her to verbal.

I understand what you are saying, but D3 coaches are looking for exceptional players all the time. If they can land a D1-quality athlete in the spring of the player's senior year, they'll make room for her.
 
Last edited:
Jan 13, 2009
52
0
My DD is considering DIII only. The coaches tend to commit to players later than a DI or DII because they heve to be sure that 1) they are accepted into the school and 2) the financial aid package meets their needs. Remember, the coaches have no influence on how much aid a DIII recruit gets. One coach she is in talks with expressed regrets that she lost three potential freshman last year because they didn't get a sufficient finanacial aid package.

One DIII coach told my daughter that girls in her major tend to quit softball after two years or change majors. I like the honesty, but wonder if it will influence the coach about saving a spot on the roster or telling her to walk on and try out.

Another consideration. If your DD is taking a lab intensive curriculum (e.g. nursing) DIII coaches will allow them to miss scheduled practices to attend class and to study before finals. It is the coaches expectation that the girls will do the softball work on their own. It ends up being just as much work with a little more flexibility than a DI or DII program
 
May 25, 2010
1,070
0
But, at the end of the day, I told her to pick the college for the college.

That's the take-home point right there, especially for an exceptional student with high-level career goals.

BTW -as far as recruiting - D3's recruit like everyone else.

I have not been aware of so much of this, primarily because of the much smaller budgets they're working with. I could be wrong, though, as I haven't been around that game for a very long time.

...

Thanks so much for sharing your experience. It's a number of years away for us, but while I attended state schools myself, there's a large part of me that hopes our daughter will give the smaller schools more consideration than I did (or was able to, but not gonna play the victim card! lol).
 

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