Public vs. Private High Schools

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By Chad Zimmerman

Recently, a STACK athlete sent us a great question. The athlete, from a small public school in Maryland, had been offered a scholarship to attend a nearby private school and play for its football team—and been promised the school's best efforts to get him a D-I athletic scholarship. Should he stay at his small public school and continue building an up-and-coming football program, or take the private school offer and transfer in the hopes he'll have a better shot at a scholly?

To get some answers, we called in regular recruiting contributor Jack Renkens, president of Recruiting Realities, to shed some light on the private versus public school debate.

Why you should go private

If you're at a small public school with a weak athletic program, switching to a bigger or more successful private school will be advantageous. College coaches take notice when you play against better competition week in and week out. If an athlete rushes for 189 yards per game, a college coach will find out who he's playing against. However, don't go private because of athletics alone. Consider the academic opportunity that will be available. Don't forget to look at the school's tuition and how much they're offering you.

Why you should stay public

There's no guarantee you'll secure a scholarship to the next level by going to a private school. If you enjoy the environment you're in and you have a good relationship with your teammates and coaches, stay where you are. Having fun and enjoying the game and people around you are very important.

The Reality

Recruiting has to do with talent. Your high school coach—public or private—is your number one link to college coaches, and he'll do his best to help you through the recruiting process. However, he can't know every coach in every state, so all he can do is expose your abilities to the pool of colleges with whom he has direct contact. I'll ask a high school coach how many college coaches he knows in Idaho, West Virginia and New Hampshire. His answer: "None. None. And none." His players are missing out on a large percentage of available opportunities. This is why you need to help your coach out, and be proactive in the process. Give yourself every opportunity to play in college.

Things to know

• In most states, it's illegal for private schools to recruit purely on athletic talent

• Private schools are only allowed to offer financial aid and scholarships based on need

• Many states have rules that penalize students for transferring schools after their freshman year.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock

Topics: FOOTBALL | COACH | COLLEGE COACH