College Conversations: a handout for high school coaches

Coach Ryan McGinnis is the head baseball coach at Kimberly High School in Kimberly, Wisconsin. Back in episode 75, Coach McGinnis talked about the importance of talking to your young student-athletes about their future plans, especially as it pertains to college. He described a document that he uses to help players and their parents in this process. We’ve posted the document here for you to read and you can download your free PDF copy at the Top Coach Store. Thanks, Coach McGinnis!


by Ryan McGinnis, Kimberly High School, Kimberly, Wisconsin 

It is and always has been important to me and my coaching staff to try to help our players achieve their goals on the field and off of it. I have continued to put together these questions/thought-provoking items to help players make the best decision on what school they will attend after high school

We do not measure success in our program by how many kids go on to play college or professional baseball. I meet with kids that want to continue their career and also those that don’t. What we do like to measure is how well these guys are able to go through a decision-making process and then have the courage to make a tough decision with conviction, enthusiasm, and passion.

Below are questions that our players are presented typically after their sophomore year, but even sometimes after their freshmen year. They can answer them in writing or just by going through and thinking about them but not putting anything down on paper (not something I particularly like).

When “completed”, we have a conversation and these provide a real good direction for the conversation. It is vitally important, in my mind, that the player owns this decision and takes accountability for the process as well as the decision. Oftentimes, though, the parents are a part of these conversations, and this is really a good thing.

1. How far or close to home do you want to be?
2. Is it important that you are able to come home on a normal weekend?
3. Is it important that family is able to visit you?
4. What kind of city do you want your college (big, middle-sized, small, small-but-near-a-big-city) to be in or near?
5. What is your ideal vision on size of school numbers-wise and campus-wise?
6. How many kids would you feel comfortable having in an average class?
7. What do you envision dorms to be like?
8. Are you comfortable living with someone else?
9. What do you want to major in? If you are undecided, what are some possibilities?
10. List schools you are interested in that have the academic programs you want?
11. List 2 or 3 schools that meet the following requirements:
within two hours of Kimberly that you would be excited to apply to:
between three & five hours from Kimberly that you would be excited to apply to:
further than five hours from Kimberly that you would be excited to apply to:
12. Have you contacted schools you are interested in to get the necessary registration paperwork or gone online to seek this out? If so, which ones?
13. Have you visited any schools? If so, where? If not, why not?
14. Are you willing to take out a loan? Do you think you will qualify for financial aid? If you have no idea how financial aid or loans work, ask. Do you know where and when to get your FAFSA?
15. Are you willing to apply for scholarships?
16. Do you know where to go to get information on what scholarships are available?
17. What (if any) scholarship or financial aid amount are you being offered?
18. What was your ACT/SAT score(s)?
19. What is your cumulative GPA? Class rank?
List any upper-level courses you took.
20. What are your “gifts”?
21. Academically, what do you do well?
22. What do you enjoy doing? Explain specifically.
(Example: If you want to be an Athletic Trainer or a Physical
Therapist, you better enjoy science classes)
23. What type of priorities are you going to have in college, do you think?
(Academics, Sports, Social, Work, Other)
24. How tough of an adjustment socially will it be for you? What is the culture of the school and the community?
25. What other things do you see potentially being involved in at this school?
26. What are two things you value in a collegiate baseball program?
27. What are two attributes you value in a coach?
28. What type of off-season work, athletically, do you plan on doing in college, including the summer?
29. What are your goals as a baseball player? During college? During summers? After college?
30. If intending to play Division I or II baseball, have you registered with the NCAA Clearinghouse?
31. What are your strengths as a baseball player that will help you succeed in college (at least three)?
32. What are your weaknesses as a baseball player (two)?
33. Do you need to go to a place where you will play right away? If not, are you willing to wait and earn a spot over time? Think about this and be able to explain one way or the other.
34. Have you spoken to alumni of schools you are interested in (both from an academic standpoint and athletic standpoint)?
35. Have you spoken to the coach about the field of study you want and how that ties into playing college baseball (are you going to be able to succeed academically….are you and the coach, as far as you can tell, on the same page priority-wise)?
36. Have you spoken to someone in the field of study you are interested in at that school? Have you seen the educational/academic facilities?
37. Is there a solid academic support staff in place for you to succeed?
38. How are the athletic facilities of this program (field, cages, bullpens, practice fields, clubhouse, indoor facilities, weight room, etc.)?
39. Have you spoken to the coach (and players) about that coach’s style of coaching? If so, what is it and how does this style fit you?
40. What is the program’s track record of developing players?
What is the program’s track record of developing students?
41. What is the program’s strength and conditioning program both in and out of season?
42. If you are a pitcher, what is the program’s throwing program?
43. Where do players from this program play summer ball?
44. How competitive is the conference in which you would play?
45. Have you watched the team play a game and or practice?
46. What is the team’s graduation rate?
47. List some of the top, most urgent or pressing questions you have about any part of the college process:
48. List one to three people you trust most that you will consult with while making this decision and why you chose each of them:
49. In the end, the decision has to be made and owned by whom?
50. What is your timeline on making the decision? Provide dates including when the final decision will be made no later than:


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