The great (and frustrating) thing about playing fantasy football is that anyone can play and anyone can win.
It’s great because you get to play with friends or co-workers.
It’s great because you research potential players, apply your strategy to draft a winning team, make weekly managerial decisions, and watch football a little differently on the weekends.
It’s frustrating when the first-time player who literally auto drafted her team while she was on vacation in Spain and didn’t make any (I mean ANY) adjustments to her weekly roster makes it to the semifinals. Very! Frustrating!
…but what does fantasy football have to do with planning for college?
The great (and frustrating) thing about planning for college is that anyone can plan and anyone can attend.
It’s great because you get to plan and even attend college with friends.
It’s great because you research potential colleges, apply your strategy to get accepted to the right fit college, make weekly college planning decisions, and you might watch college football a little differently on the weekends (as long as you don’t choose a college based on an athletic program alone!).
It’s frustrating. Well, college planning can be confusing. It can be frustrating if you’re the first person in your family to attend. It can be frustrating if you are an international student. It can be frustrating if you don’t make any adjustments to how you prepare.
It’s frustrating…if you don’t have a plan! Solomon wrote, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22).
Just for fun, let’s follow the outline from The Dummies Guide on How to Play Fantasy Football and try to apply it to college planning.
1. You join a league.
Fantasy football league owners send out invitations for players join public or private leagues.
College admission officers send out invitations to prospective students with the hopes of getting them to apply. Know that an invitation does not mean the college knows what you want to study or what you have to offer. Many times, your GPA or test score qualified you to be placed on that list. Which is awesome!
Invitations give you an opening but you get to decide if you want to attend public or private four-year university or attend a two-year college.
2. You prepare for your league draft by scouting players.
Before choosing a fantasy team, players spend time researching, ranking them based on their personal preference, reviewing their draft strategy.
So before choosing the college of your dreams, you need to research (check websites, visit the campus, visit the community), rank the programs and colleges, and review your application strategy.
3. You build your fantasy football team via the draft.
The draft is the most fun and exciting day of the fantasy season. Each fantasy owner reviews their draft strategy, drafts their players, and fills their roster with the best team possible.
College application season can be fun and exciting. You’re submitting essays, recommendation letters, transcripts, and setting up auditions or interviews. You need to gather as much information as possible to make a wise decision.
Each college will review their admission strategy, admit their students, and fill their prospective freshman class with the best students possible.
4. Your team competes against another team every week.
During the pro football season, the real teams play every week just like the fantasy teams. Each players’ statistics of how they performed are posted to determine which team (roster) won the head-to-head matchup. The team with the most points wins each week.
During the college application season, you are competing against other prospective students for a spot in the incoming freshman class. Your statistics (GPA, test scores, extracurricular activities, potential major, class rank…) are compared to the mission of the college to determine who would be a good match. In 2016, UCLA received over 100,000 college applications!
This is why applying to more than one college is important!
5. You make moves to improve your team.
As a fantasy owner, you’re in total control. You make roster changes if a player is not good enough or gets injured or is not playing up to their potential (in your mind).
As a prospective student, you are in total control. Once you’ve been accepted, you’ll still want to review the financial aid award letters to see if this will be a good financial fit. Don’t make a final decision until you’ve crunched all the numbers. You can even submit an appeal letter if your financial circumstances were not reflected on your financial aid application (FAFSA).
6. Your team (hopefully) makes the playoffs and wins your league.
The last team standing wins a thirty-six inch trophy or a gold ring (see above), or cash. (Some fantasy football players are serious!)
And it's not always the team with the most head-to-head wins the championship. Some winners barely got in to the playoffs but still finished strong.
Earning a college degree is not for everyone. But for those who begin, and finish in four-years (six at the most), there will be a winner.
By attending and graduating with a college degree, you will set yourself up to have the best start in life.
And that accomplishment is better than any fantasy football championship.
Combining my youth ministry and educational consulting experience, I guide students to connect higher education with God's calling.