As the effects of the pandemic ripple through our education system and the many diverse groups of students it is struggling to serve, we cannot deny the impact it has had on student athletes. There are nearly eight million students who participate in high school sports in the U.S., and many of them are still sidelined right now due to the pandemic. Understandably, student athletes who thrived on a busy, structured schedule of academics, practice, and competition are eager to get back to their sports after enduring ten months of disruption. But without the tangible reward of a team practice, a game on the field under the lights, or a cross country meet with hundreds of other runners, many are struggling to stay motivated with academics. However, our message to student athletes who dream of participating in an NCAA school remains the same: Continue to take a minimum of four core courses every school year. For high school juniors, this is a particularly important time. By the end of junior year (or the sixth semester of high school), student athletes need to have earned ten core credits with seven of them in English, math, and science. Typically, this includes two years of English, math, and science, and one more year of either math or science. This “10/7” guide is often overlooked when students decide to drop a third year of science or math to make their academic schedule less demanding. However, if student athletes don’t achieve this standard by the beginning of their senior year, they can become ineligible for NCAA sports. Here’s a quick snapshot of the academic track your student athlete should follow to ensure they’re eligible for NCAA sports by the start of their senior year: 9th Grade: The Planning Year Start planning now! Take the right courses and earn the best grades possible. Make sure you are taking NCAA-approved courses. We recommend four core courses, with one each of English, math, science and social science. 10th Grade: The Registration Year Register for a Profile Page or Certification account with the NCAA Eligibility Center. If you fall behind academically, ask your school counselor for help finding approved courses you should be taking. Monitor your NCAA Eligibility account for next steps. Ask your school counselor to upload your transcript to the Eligibility Center at the end of the year. 11th Grade: The Study Year Work with your school counselor to make sure you’re on track to complete the required number of NCAA-approved courses to graduate on time. Take the SAT or ACT and submit your scores to the NCAA Eligibility Center using code 9999. Ensure your sports participation information is correct in your Eligibility Center account. Ask your school counselor to upload your transcript to the Eligibility Center at the end of the year. 12th Grade: The Graduation Year! Complete your final NCAA-approved core courses. If necessary, take the SAT or ACT again and submit your scores to the NCAA Eligibility Center using code 9999. Request your final amateurism certification (beginning April 1 for fall enrollment, or October 1 for winter/spring enrollment) in your Eligibility Center account. Graduate! Ask your school counselor to upload your final, official transcript with proof of graduation to your Eligibility Center account. This is a proven timeline to ensure your student is eligible to have the incredible opportunity of earning a college education while playing the sport they love. If you have questions about whether your student athlete is on track with NCAA eligibility requirements, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We support student athletes in almost any sport you can imagine all over the world, and I’m happy to provide you with a complimentary transcript review.