The Process

Exposure

The recruiting process begins with a numbers game. College recruiters want large pools of qualified student-athletes to evaluate so that they increase the odds of attracting good candidates. This presents a great opportunity for prospective student-athlete if they market themselves correctly. The student-athlete should take the necessary steps to get their profiles in as many recruiting pools as possible.

A good student-athlete who has been recognized with honors such as all-area or all-state, will be exposed primarily to local colleges. It is possible that the student-athlete is only be part of a very small recruiting pool, which lessens the odds of actually being recruited. If the student-athlete is a “blue-chip” prospect, they have probably received excessive coverage during their high school career and have found their way into most of the larger recruiting pools. But even the elite student-athlete may not be offered an athletic scholarship due to a number of reasons. That is why it is critical that all student-athletes, seeking an athletic scholarship, get involved with the recruiting efforts of many colleges at all levels.

One of the first places for a student-athlete to start is with the person their high school coach. High school coaches are typically a great resource and will do all they can to help their student-athletes prepare to make the transition to the next level. In many cases, high school coaches are the eyes and ears of the recruiters. They can do a lot to help guide you and provide feedback as you attempt to market yourself to recruiters. The downside is that high school coaches are pressed for time due to their workload and responsibilities.

Another option the student-athlete should consider is attending a clinic or camp. These events allow student-athletes to demonstrate their skills and talents on both the field and in the classroom. The average clinic is held by an individual college and offers strength, skill and technique training. The best clinics collect this info and develop a profile on the behalf of the student-athlete. These profiles are then often provided to college coaches looking for “qualified” student-athlete information.

Many student-athletes subscribe to recruiting services on-line. These services can be a helpful tool to get your name out in front of recruiters. Unfortunately, many of these services are new and unreliable. Most recruiters express concern with the quality of data they receive from these services, so student-athletes should not view this as the best tool for gaining exposure with recruiters.

More and more student athletes are contracting with a professional athletic profiling service to do the dirty work for them. These services can be expensive, but if it is a reputable company that knows the business, they can greatly simplify the recruiting process for the student athlete. These services excel at promoting the student-athlete and ensuring a good fit for recruiters both academically and athletically.

Regardless of the tools or services used to gain exposure, the key is for the student-athlete to do as much research as possible. There are a number of opportunities out there, but if a student-athlete and their parents know what to expect and what they are looking for, the recruiting process can really be enjoyable.

Evaluation

The recruiting process can bring with it a great deal of pressure. It is in the best interest of the student-athlete and parent, prior to the recruiting rush, to have discussed and decided on the type of college they would consider attending.

The five main areas student-athletes and parents consider in selecting a college – 1) Academics 2) Athletic Performance 3) Financial Support 4) Location 5) Campus/Social Life.

Academics
The academic standards set by the college should be in-line with the student-athletes academic goals. College should also offer a variety of majors in the student-athletes areas of interest.

Athletic Performance
The needs of the athletic program should fit the skills and abilities of the student-athlete being recruited. The recruiter should educate the student-athlete on what position(s) are available at their college and when they will have a chance to compete for a starting spot.

Financial Support
There should be adequate financial aid available to meet the student-athletes needs. Some colleges only offer partial scholarships. There are other types of aid available to the student-athlete in the form of grants or loans.

Location
It may be important for the student-athlete to attend a college or university in a close proximity to their hometown or to relatives.

Campus/Social Life
Outside of the academics and athletics, the college should provide a great campus/social environment that encourages the excellence and growth of their student body.

Narrowing the Field

A student-athlete should have a good idea of which colleges, if any, have a real interest in recruiting them early on in their junior year. The best indicator of “interest” a student-athlete has is the volume of recruiting correspondence they receive. If a student-athlete receives dozens of informational letters and pamphlets, chances are they are in several recruiting pools and are a candidate for an athletic scholarship. However, it is still a numbers game and there are absolutely no guarantees. That is why it is critical that the student-athlete and parents get involved with as many schools as possible. This is the only way that the student-athlete will have a shot at being considered for the best opportunities available.

Once the student-athlete has been contacted by multiple colleges and has a general feel for what type of college they would like to attend, the student-athlete and parents should begin narrowing down the field. The best way to do this is by contacting the recruiters and college administrators to evaluate what they “might” have to offer the student-athlete. The parents and student-athlete should develop a series of questions for the recruiter and administrators about the college and the athletic opportunities they offer. The answers to these questions should help the student-athlete and parents evaluate if the college could be a good fit for what they are looking for in an institution of higher learning.

The following are sample questions for recruiters or administrators that could be used to evaluate what the college and athletic program has to offer the student-athlete:

College Specific

  • What types of scholarships does the college offer? Academic? Athletic?
  • What fields of study does the college offer?
  • What are the entrance requirements for the college?
  • What is the cost for attending the college?
  • Does the college provide adequate campus facilities for the academic and athletic student body? Housing? Food and Campus Services? Extracurricular?
  • What are the graduation requirements for the college?
  • What is the faculty to student ratio? What is the classroom atmosphere/climate like at the college?
  • What is the student body make-up? Enrollment? Men? Women? Minority?

Athletic Specific

  • How many scholarships are available to this years recruiting class? What is the average size of the class?
  • What scholarship positions is the program looking to fill? Non-scholarship?
  • What exactly will the scholarship cover? Can the scholarship be evoked or lost? If so, for what reasons?
  • Under what condition can a student be dismissed from the team?
  • Is there insurance that covers the student-athlete in case they are injured during competition?
  • Is there an application process that must be completed in order to receive a scholarship offer? If so, what does that process look like?
  • What kinds of off-season activities are required of the student-athletes?
  • Is there a full-time support staff in place for student-athletes? Advisors? Tutors?
  • What percentage of student-athletes graduate from the institution? What percentage of student-athletes go to graduate school?
  • What are the goals of the program over the next 3-5 years?

Getting Serious

After the student-athlete and parents have narrowed the field down to schools that meet their initial requirements and have expressed interest in the student-athlete, the next step is to determine the level of interest the school has in the student-athlete. This can be accomplished by developing a second list of questions that are more specific and focus on athletic program. Parents should take an active role in developing this list and conducting the calls with the student-athlete. Make sure to track all responses so that a comparison can be made after each school has been contacted.

The following are sample questions for recruiters that could be used to evaluate their level of interest in the student-athlete:

  • Has the recruiter made a personal evaluation of the student-athlete? If not, will they be making one? Do they need any additional information?
  • Will the recruiter, assistant coach or head coach be making a home visit to see the student-athlete?
  • Does the recruiter plan to invite the student-athlete out to attend a camp or make a site visit? Will it be an official visit?
  • Will you be signing any student-athletes early?
  • How does the recruiter see the student-athlete fitting into their program? How many student-athletes currently play in the position the student-athlete will play? What is their classification?
  • Will the student-athlete be able to compete for a position their freshman year?

Face to Face

During the phone visits, a student-athlete and their parents should have gathered enough information about the college to have determined which schools are their top choices. The next step is completing a home visit with the recruiter. This is the first opportunity for the student-athlete and parents to put a face with a name. Home visits are typically a structured visit where the recruiter and student-athlete can ask new questions and follow-up with any additional information that was covered during the phone visits. It is truly a time of evaluation in many areas for the student-athlete, parents and recruiter.

Once the home visit has been conducted, the student-athlete should schedule a campus visit. A campus visit is generally organized and paid for by the college. This will be a big part of parents and student-athlete’s evaluation. Campus visits will give the student-athlete and parents a real feel for what the college has to offer. Typically, the student-athlete will be assigned a host during the visit to show them around the school and introduce them to other student-athletes in the program. This will be a great opportunity to get a unique perspective on the college and athletic program from an actual student-athlete.

After the home visit and campus visit, it is necessary to do a post evaluation of the visits to make sure that the visits were successful and to determine if the college is good fit for the student-athlete. It is also a good idea to call or send a letter thanking the recruiter for the visit.

The recruiting process is a competition! If you are being recruited, you are competing for that scholarship with many other high school student-athletes. Be prepared to broaden your search for a scholarship beyond your top schools.


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