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ACT, SAT tests must be studied like the playbook

March 29, 2010

A lot of things will get you into college.

At the top of the list of things that won't are bad grades and bad test scores.

Sure, you can get into the local community colleges and there is nothing wrong with that.

They are a great place to start your educational road to a college degree.

I spent my first three years in two junior colleges playing two sports - basketball and running track.

I also accomplished all of my general education so when I finally went to a four-year school - Cal Poly San Luis Obispo - I spent the next seven quarters taking classes in my major - journalism.

I sure wasn't the best student in the world, but I also learned early on that practical application in journalism with mediocre grades was more important than great grades with little or no practical application.

Basically, at 22-years-old, it gave me a reason to be lazy in all the subjects in my major that I had to take but didn't care about - economics, political science, to name a couple - while spending time playing intramural basketball and working my tail off in other journalism courses I viewed as more important than others.

Look, at $96 per quarter for tuition coming out of my pocket, I felt I was making the prudent decisions on where to focus my energy.

A little homework there and $1 in quarters for Pacman there.

Playing intramural basketball here and traveling with the women's volleyball team as a part of my duties with the sports information office there.

I couldn't tell you what my SAT score was, but I can tell you it wasn't the best, or probably good at all.

But, again, I wasn't trying to get into college to play sports, either.

Sports alone will not get you into college.

Academics is a bigger part of getting into college to play sports than any sport.

If any juniors and seniors as of this moment are spending or have spent more time learning the playbook than studying and taking the practice ACT and SAT exams, you are doing yourself a grave disservice.

Coaches really do not want to see your ACT score as a 12.

They can't help you with a 12.

Only you can help you with a 12.

The minimum coaches want to see is an 18 with something in the 20s being much more palatable.

A perfect score is 36.

Those college coaches see if you are actually giving an effort to raise your score.

And, if they see you are not giving the appropriate effort, how in the world can they think you're going to give the appropriate effort to their sports program?

Anyone can steer the ship when the sea is calm.

"If you think education is expensive, try ignorance." - Attributed to Andy McIntyre and Derek Bok

Grace Groner died in January at the age of 100. She did not drive and spent 43 years as a secretary at Abbott Laboratories.

She lived in a one-bedroom north of Chicago in Lake Forest.

Both of her parents died with she was 12. She and her twin sister were raised by friends of their parents and those adults paid for the sisters to attend Lake Forest College.

Grace graduated in 1931.

She bought $180 in specially-issued stocks in Abbott Laboratories in 1935 and never sold them.

At the time of her death, that $180 turned into $7 million dollars and she donated every penny to Lake Forest College.

"She did not have the (material) needs that other people have," said her attorney, William Marlatt. "She could have lived in any house in Lake Forest but she chose not to.

"She enjoyed other people, and every friend she had was a friend for who she was. They weren't friends for what she had."

The donated money will be used for a foundation to fund student internships and study-abroad programs. The money should bring the school more than $300,000 a year.

She traveled widely upon her retirement from Abbott, volunteered for decades at the First Presbyterian Church and occasionally funneled anonymous gifts through Marlatt to needy local residents.

"She was very sensitive to people not having a whole lot," said Pastor Kent Kinney of First Presbyterian. "Grace would see those people, would know them, and she would make gifts."

"Knowledge is power and enthusiasm pulls the switch." - Steve Drake

Education is not only about pulling straight A's, although that certainly helps.

Education is something that also happens outside the four walls of a classroom and the boundaries of an athletic field.

Sports teaches character, teamwork, hard work and how to take responsibility of your actions, among other things.

If you are the 50th guy on the football team, those coaches still want to see if you work hard to get better or if you whine and pout because you're sitting the bench.

The teacher wants to see your reaction to a C.

Do you work harder to make it an A or B or do you bemoan the fact the teacher doesn't like you and you actually deserved a better grade.

An education in college happens when the professor hands you a syllabus on the first day of class, you see when that term paper is due and the professor never says another word about that paper.

Do you get it done on time or do you make excuses to the professor when you do not have it ready?

You see, the professor doesn't care about your excuses.

An education happens when the college football coach hands you the playbook and expects you to learn it among all your other studies.

Do you learn the playbook when the coach says so or do you give the coach excuses when you do not know it?

You see, the football coach doesn't care about your excuses.

College is about studying, eating right, getting enough sleep, making friends and studying some more.

College is about getting along with your coaches and teammates, getting to classes on time and spending that 90 minutes around the study table.

(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at

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