We are in unprecedented times. With everyone on lockdown and not knowing what the future holds, I wanted to discuss three ways in which the prep school world could be affected by this COVID-19 pandemic.
1) Harder for coaches to recruit players without campus visits: I have had three clients in the past month choose prep schools virtually. They have only talked to the coaches and admissions personnel over text, phone and video chat. These players have taken a tour of the campus virtually and spoken to former players about their experiences at the school. While a lot of factors go into choosing a prep school, and after reviewing the academics, basketball and financial offers, these two players had to rely on their gut to make their final decision. For post-grad players they will only be at a school for 9-10 months, which in the grand scheme is not a long time. It becomes more challenging for a player who will be at the school more than one year.
I have placed over thirty Taiwanese players into private schools in the US. Only a few spoke English when they arrived. After the first semester most had settled in and had a grasp on the English language. If a Taiwanese ninth grader who doesn’t speak English can travel halfway around the globe to pursue his dream of getting an American education and playing basketball at a higher level then I believe most post-grads should be able to pick a prep school virtually for a post-grad year.
2) No exposure to college coaches during summer live periods: This is a disadvantage for current seniors and upcoming juniors. Getting seen during the summer gives college coaches an idea of your abilities before you start the school year. Without this evaluation the open gym period becomes even more important. Prep schools are known to have more colleges visit to recruit their players than a majority of US high schools. This exposure will be even more important since this will be the first time many college coaches see these players. Where it goes from there remains to be seen.
3) Prep school budgets could be affected due to lack of full pay international students: There is a balance in any prep school admission office. Making sure you bring in the kids you want in your school, but also making sure you can stay in business. A majority of prep schools rely on students who can pay at or close to the full tuition price. This helps offset financial aid that is offered to students in need. Summer programs are also important for a prep school’s balance sheet. Potentially not having a summer period due to stay at home orders could create a financial burden for these schools. This could have two outcomes: 1) There will be more spots available for domestic students who would have normally been waitlisted. 2) Tuitions could be lowered to at least get a school’s beds filled. This is a constantly evolving storyline and no one knows where it will end up.