1 – Understand who is responsible. Many families assume that their high school coach is responsible for their recruiting process. High school coaches are great people; they work really hard and usually don’t earn much money. Often, they are teachers who have papers and tests to grade or work other jobs to make a living, and most of them have families to take care of as well. The recruiting process is ultimately your responsibility. You are responsible for researching and evaluating schools, contacting college coaches, visiting schools and making decisions along the way. Your high school coach can help you with the process by determining where your skills might fit in with different college levels and programs, writing recommendations, and even placing phone calls on your behalf to college coaches after you have initiated contact. Don’t be the parent that senior year says, “I thought our coach would take care of the recruiting process for us.”
2 – Be proactive. Now that you know the process is your responsibility, it’s important to be proactive and research as many schools as possible. The recruiting and college selection process is not something that should sneak up on you senior year. Success in recruiting is about matching up your son or daughter’s academic talents, athletic talents, and desires with a given college program. The families that come the closest to finding an athletic, academic, and social match are the ones who usually have the best success in the recruiting process. They have already done much of the work for the college coach, and the coach has confidence in recruiting a smart and talented athlete who wants to attend their school. There are over 1,100 NCAA colleges at the D1, D2, and D3 level, and 500+ Junior College and NAIA schools, most of which you have never heard of.
3 – Don’t follow the herd. Many students put themselves in a position to fail by simply following the herd and applying to well-known popular schools. The problem is that everyone is applying to these schools and competition for admission is extremely difficult. Harvard annually receives over 20,000 applications and admits roughly 10% of applicants each year. Despite your academic record, Harvard is going to turn down over 18,000 students each year, some of them being incredibly smart and gifted students. Juniata, a small D3 school in Pennsylvania received just over 1,500 applications last year and accepted about 1,100 students or roughly 75%. Few have heard of Juniata because they are not Harvard and you won’t find their basketball team on TV in March Madness or their football team in a bowl game. Juniata recently appeared in the Unofficial Guide to the 320 Most Interesting Colleges, published by Kaplan Publishing and their girls volleyball team won the 2004 D3 national championship. If your list of colleges includes only those well-known schools everyone has heard of, you will find competition for athletic spots and acceptance extremely difficult.
4 – Be realistic. One of the best quotes I ever saw was the following, “There are roughly 20,000 high schools in the country and thus 20,000 leading scorers on every team at every high school, but it doesn’t mean those 20,000 leading scorers are all talented enough to play college athletics.” – The love, time, money, and passion you have poured into your son or daughters athletic career can often cloud your judgment of their potential for a college scholarship. Most parents’ dream of athletic scholarships and all the money they will save and are not realistic about the chances of receiving athletic scholarship money. While your talents may garner some athletic scholarship money, after D1 football and basketball, there is very little scholarship money to go around. Most coaches, even at the D1 level, have a limited amount of money for their team that they divide up amongst 10-20 players (even more for some sports). There is far more money in the form of grants, Merit aid, outside scholarships, institutional aid, and federal financial aid, than there is athletic scholarship money. You need to explore your options at all programs at all levels, and not focus your search solely on an athletic scholarship. You also need to seek out people that can give you a realistic evaluation of your son or daughters ability and how it applies to different levels. Ultimately, only a college coach can determine whether or not you can play for them.
5 – Be Educated. There are a lot of confusing topics and terms that you will come across in the recruiting process; official visits, early decision, EFC, red shirts, scholarship blending, head-count sports, NLI, Clearinghouse, Dead period, and so on. Your job is to learn the basics, understand your role in the recruiting process, understand how coaches recruit and what the look for, and understand what admission departments and schools look for. It’s not about rules; it’s about understanding and working with the process. That’s why we developed The Making of a Student-Athlete, the most complete college recruiting guide on the market today! We took the secrets out of the recruiting process and provide you everything you need to know to succeed!