The college experience will be some of the most critical years in our children’s lives. Realizing the potential leverage families and prospective student-athletes have in the college recruiting process will develop increased confidence and clarity as the college quest unfolds. Knowing how to close on this opportunity is, without question, essential. Below are 5 important steps for college athletics recruiting.
1) Determine Potential Fits
Every prospect has an ideal college experience waiting for him or her and identifying essential operatives that define your personal goal is half the battle. Self-awareness is a powerful tool. Growing an appreciation for what potentially appeals to you in college is a great place to start. Begin by meeting as a family and identifying a shortlist of operatives (academic strength, level of athleticism, geographic location, etc.) to help formulate your initial college list.
Research a small but equal number of D-1, 2, and 3 colleges and their sports programs. Investigate the team’s success level and dig into a few player profiles to determine the general level of athleticism. Consider the conference they participate in and the strength of schedule.
2) Identify Your Position of Strength
Are you looking to use your strength as an athlete to gain an athletic scholarship? Or do you want to leverage your athletic ability to gain admission to an academically elite institution?
Considering only 25% of college athletes qualify for an athletic scholarship, the competition for athletic grants is fierce. College coaches use simple strategies when recruiting prospects, and scholarship athletes are typically blue-chip, immediate impact athletes.
Coaches from select college programs (Ivy, Patriot League, and D-3) use a slightly different formula when identifying potential prospects. The evaluation begins in the classroom and not on the field. They are hungry for academic information (transcripts, school profile, and standardized testing) to compute a rough “admissions index.” Once prospects pass this hurdle, coaches aggressively begin the sports evaluation.
3) NCAA Rules and Procedures
Gathering information is critical to the successful organization of any worthy project. Begin by building a college recruiting information base as early as the 9th grade. Make this a fun, family hobby that increasingly grows into a highly organized, disciplined project by the end of the junior year in high school.
Embrace the NCAA recruiting rules. It will help you identify the game rules that will streamline your planning into a more straightforward and more useful format. Visit: http://www.ncaa.org/wps/wcm/connect/public/ncaa/resources to preview the Division 1, 2, and 3 recruiting manuals and devote your time to the chapters on recruiting, eligibility, and financial aid.
4) The Bigger Picture
Every prospect should get excited about potentially contributing their athletic talent to a worthy college team. That aside, it is essential to look beyond the college athletic experience when identifying a school that will position you firmly in your professional field of interest.
For example, “non-athletic scholarship institutions” can offer significant assistance in Admissions and Financial Aid. Furthermore, prospects should clearly understand the role the college coach plays in this process. Make every effort to develop a sincere and strong working relationship with the coaches. You will be well on your way!
If your mission is clear, then communication becomes the vehicle to move with a definite purpose in your chosen direction and should be initiated early on by the prospect. College coaches have explicit restrictions on when and where they may contact prospects and families. Still, candidates and families may call or e-mail a coach early in the recruiting process and with very few exceptions.
An initial letter of introduction accompanied by a profile is a great way to begin. Still, it is imperative to regularly follow up with significant updates with “grip” (competition results, academic and video updates, etc.). The prospect that practices “proactive persistence” with respect will grab the college coach’s attention.
Make a concerted effort to execute these 5 important steps for college athletics recruiting. Combine this with a systematic and well-researched college recruiting plan and you will be off to a great start to identifying, working toward, and securing admission to your top college choice.
Tom Kovic is a former Division I college coach and Founder/Principal of Victory Collegiate Consulting, where he advises prospects and families on college recruiting. For further information visit: www.victoryrecruiting.com.