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        Beyond The Ball — football recruiting

        Official Visits - Recruiting

        Official Visits - Recruiting

        What is an official visit?

        So, what makes a visit official? Any visit to a college campus in which any part is financed by the school is considered an official visit. Coaches usually save invitations for their top recruits and getting asked is a huge step on your recruiting journey. It’s important to prepare in advance for this crucial part of the recruiting process. We’ve put together everything you need to know to ace your next official visit.

        NCAA official visit rules

        Each division level has its own set of rules surrounding official college visits. Division I has the strictest regulations. The following are the rules you need to know:

        • The NCAA allows a recruit to make only five visits to Division I schools, limited to one per school. Official visits to DII and DIII schools are also limited to one per school, but there is no limit on total amount of visits. 
        • The school can pay for the following for you and your parents/guardians: transportation to and from the campus, lodging throughout your visit, three meals per day and three tickets to a home sports event.
        • Schools may pay for a recruit’s transportation to and from campus. However, they can only provide transportation for parent/guardians if they travel in the same car as the recruit. Flights and separate bus or train tickets may not be purchased for parents.
        • At all levels, recruits can take only one official visit per school.
        • Each official visit may be up to 48 hours long, or the span of one weekend.
        • For D1 men's basketball, recruits can begin taking official visits starting January 1 of their junior year of high school. Women's basketball recruits may begin taking official visits April of their junior year of high school, beginning the Thursday following the Women's Final Four tournament.
        • For D1 women's basketball recruits may begin taking official visits April of their junior year of high school, beginning the Thursday following the Women's Final Four tournament.
        • Due to a rule update by the NCAA, effective May 1, 2019, official visits for all other DI sports can begin August 1 before the athlete's junior year of high school. For almost all sports, this bumps up the official visit date.
        • Official visits are not allowed to occur during recruiting dead periods.

        Within these official rules, each school will have a slightly different way in which they conduct visits. Some schools will be able to finance your whole trip, paying for transportation, meals, lodging and tickets to a home game. But this is the maximum of what colleges can provide for their recruits. Some programs simply may not have the money to pay for your entire visit, opting to finance just a small portion of your visit. An official visit can also include having an on-campus lunch or dinner that is purchased by the coach. It doesn’t have to last the full 48 hours—again, that’s the maximum amount but not a requirement.

        Generally speaking, the more money a coach spends on your official visit, the higher up on their list you are as a recruit. However, that’s not a reason to discount a program that’s trying to recruit on a budget. If you’re interested in a school, official visits can be the last piece of the puzzle to help you understand if it’s your best college fit.

        What are the new recruiting rules around official visits?

        Effective May 1, 2019, the NCAA created a series of updated recruiting rules to slow down the recruiting process and cut back on the number of recruits getting verbal offers as eighth graders, freshmen and sophomores in high school. Athletes will now have more time to research colleges and focus on developing athletically and academically. Then, as juniors and seniors in high school, they will be better equipped to decide which college or university is right for them.

        According to the new rules, DI recruits in most sports can now start taking official and unofficial visits starting August 1 before their junior year of high school. In the past, official visits weren't permitted until the athlete's senior year of high school and there were no restrictions on unofficial visits. While this is exciting news for recruits eager to visit campuses, these rule changes will also likely put more emphasis on athletes and families needing to be proactive early in the recruiting process. With top prospects being offered official visits their junior year, this means even more schools can lock down their recruiting classes early. As a recruit, you need to start the recruiting process as early as possible so you're ready for official visit invites August 1 of junior year.  

        How does an official visit work?

        Depending on the sport and division level, athletes can begin taking official visits junior year. A coach may extend an official visit offer to recruits during a phone call, email, text or direct message. Once a coach invites you, grab your family schedule and work out a weekend to take the trip.

        While receiving an invite does indicate you are at the top of a coach’s recruiting list, it doesn’t mean you’ve locked in your spot just yet. This means the coach will be evaluating you during your entire official visit. Most importantly, visits are a great way for coaches to get a better understanding of your personality and character. They want to see if you are a recruit who will be a positive asset to their team and the school.

        Insider Tip: Coaches will look at how you interact with your parents—are you respectful, courteous and kind? Or, do you brush them off and behave rudely? Do you answer the coaches’ questions thoughtfully or do you give one-word responses? While it may be intimidating to visit a college campus and get evaluated by the coaches throughout, it’s important to make an effort to put your best foot forward.


        How to prepare for your official visit

        Because official visits are more formal than unofficial visits, there’s a bit more prep work required from athletes before the visit takes place. Follow this checklist to make sure you’ve covered all your bases:

        1. Register with the NCAA Eligibility Center. Before your visit, the coach needs to know that you are eligible to actually compete at their school. If you’re visiting Division I and Division II schools, you need to get a Certification Account. Make sure that your parent/guardian is with you as you sign up, because there is a fee involved. This is a good step to take your sophomore year of high school, so you're ready to start taking official visits your junior year. If you’re visiting a Division III school, sign up for an NCAA Profile page, which is the free version of the Certification Account. You only need a Certification Account if you’re actively getting recruited by Division I and/or Division II colleges. When you register with the NCAA Eligibility Center, you will receive your NCAA ID number. Many coaches will ask for your NCAA ID number before your official visit.
        2. Have the coach add you to the Institutional Request List. This is another formality to ensure that you are eligible to compete at an NCAA school. Request that the coach add you to the IRL list, which will put your Eligibility Center application on a fast track to get cleared. Because the NCAA receives so many requests through its Eligibility Center, the Institutional Request List serves to make sure athletes who need to be cleared quickly will be.
        3. Send the admissions office your transcript and a standardized test score. If you’ve already registered with the Eligibility Center, the school should be able to access your transcript and test scores. However, this step helps the admissions office ensure that your academic criteria are up to the standards of that school, while the NCAA Eligibility Center ensures that you’ve met the academic requirements mandated by the NCAA to compete in college sports.
        4. Know how you will respond if you receive an offer. As mentioned earlier, offers are not guaranteed during official visits, but they do happen. To avoid freezing on the spot, go into your official visit with a game plan for how you will respond. If this is your top school and you’ve visited the other colleges you’re interested in, it might make sense to say yes as soon as possible. However, if you have other schools on your list, you can ask the coach when the offer will expire.
        5. Put together your list of questions for the coach. During your official visit, you will have a chance to get all your questions answered, so take advantage of this opportunity. Sit down with your parents before the visit and brainstorm all your questions. Write down your questions for the coach and bring the list with you. This way, you don’t forget an important topic and you can impress the coach with your preparedness.

        Do parents go on official visits?

        Parents are invited to go on official visits. The school can pay for three meals per day and tickets to a home sports match. However, the school is only allowed to pay for their transportation to and from campus if the parents are traveling in the same car as the recruit. Flights and separate bus or train tickets may not be purchased for parents. Parents have a very specific role throughout the official visit: Let the athlete be the focus of the experience.

        For some parents, it might be hard to let go and allow their student-athlete to take center stage during this visit. However, parents should let their athlete ask questions and take control of the conversation. Give them an opportunity to hold a candid, uninterrupted conversation with the coach. Allow them to make their own opinions about the school before injecting your point of view. When the conversation turns to finances, scholarships and paying for college, this is where coaches typically expect parents to jump in.


        What happens on an official visit?

        While every official visit will be slightly different, recruits can expect that the trip will include a campus tour. This is your chance to familiarize yourself with the campus and ask yourself if you would enjoy living there for four years. As you tour the campus, take notes. When you’re trying to remember what you liked—and didn’t like—about each of the schools you visited, you can refer back to your notes to help jog your memory about the trip. Use the following checklist to make sure you hit all the key spots on campus:

        • Check out the library and sit in on a class.
        • Visit the different housing options, both on and off campus.
        • Meet your future training staff.
        • Eat in the school cafeteria or food court.
        • Set up a meeting with an academic adviser.
        • Hang out on the campus grounds.
        • Stay off your phone and experience the campus.

        Coaches typically will want you to meet a few members of the team—or the whole team—to see how your chemistry checks out. You may also be invited to participate in a workout or another team activity. According to NCAA rules, however, any kind of workout you attend on an official visit cannot be organized by the coach or coaching staff. Typically, the workout will be led by the team’s captains. Take this opportunity to see if you connect with your potential teammates.


        Questions to expect from the coach on your official visit

        You will also likely get some one-on-one time with the coach. This is a chance for you to ask any final questions that you have. Before your visit, write down some questions and keep adding to the list so you have something to go off of when you sit down with the coach. The coach will also probably have some questions for you, too. Here are just a few examples of questions to expect from a coach during your visit:

        • “What other schools are recruiting you?” Be honest here and tell the coach other schools you’re actively talking to. If it’s true, list schools that are rivals with or comparable to the school you’re visiting. This will make the coach want you on their team even more.
        • “What other colleges are you visiting?” Again, it’s important to be honest. If you have—or haven’t—visited any other schools yet, let them know.
        • “When can you commit?” While getting invited on an official visit doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get an offer, it certainly does happen. If this is your number one school and you have a good feeling about it, this might be the right time to lock down a commitment. If you have any other schools to visit before you make your decision, that’s OK, too. Simply make an educated guess when you think you will know. Ask the coach how long the offer stands and when they would like to know your answer.

        Some coaches will arrange for you and your parents to attend a home sporting event. They might also have a teammate take you to dinner or walk you around campus again. Plus, you’ll get some free time to explore the area and learn more about the school.


        What to bring on an official visit

        A lot of recruits ask us what to wear on an official visit, and our best piece of advice is to err on the side of overdressing, rather than underdressing. You want to look neat and clean throughout your entire trip. For men, bring a collared shirt with nice jeans or khakis. For women, a skirt, dress, nice slacks or jeans are acceptable. Avoid wearing sweatshirts, sweatpants, hats, flip flops and ripped jeans. Bring athletic clothes and shoes in case you get invited to work out with the team.

        As mentioned before, it’s a great idea to come with some questions for the coach. When the moment comes to ask your questions, it’s easy to freeze up and forget them all. Having them written down will ensure you get the answers you need, plus it will show the coach that you are organized and responsible. Make sure you do your homework and read up on the school, too.


        Your follow-up after the visit

        Have you ever heard that the follow-up is the most important part? After each visit, make sure you follow up with the coach. Send them a “thank you” note, thanking them for their time and telling them some of your favorite parts of the visit. You can also let the coach know where you’ll be competing next if they’d like to watch you in person. The follow-up shows the coach you’re a thoughtful, courteous athlete, and it also keeps you top-of-mind as they assemble their roster.

        Overall, enjoy your visit! This is your chance to get the “red carpet” treatment and get a taste of what life at that college will be like.

        5 WORST Recruiting tips of ALL time

        5 WORST Recruiting tips of ALL time

        Original Article by  

        USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the recruiting process. This isn’t about where just the top five-star athletes are headed but rather a guide to the process and the pitfalls for student-athletes nationwide from Fred Bastie, the owner and founder of Playced.com. Playced.com identifies appropriate colleges for potential recruits anddeliversan online DIY college planning experience for student athletes of all talent levels and ages.

        Once the word gets out that you want to in play your sport in college, the “experts” will come out of the woodwork.  Everyone has advice on what will help you achieve your dream.  For that reason, if you are looking for recruiting advice, make sure you are listening to the right people.  Your Uncle Billy who knew someone, who had a cousin, who was second string at XYZ State University is probably not who you should listen to.  Go to your current high school or summer coach and ask for his or her advice.

        Over the years I have heard many stories from many players about how to approach college recruiting.  Much of the advice is good, but some isn’t.  Here are the 5 worst pieces of recruiting advice I have ever heard.  There is a lesson to be learned from each one.

        “Don’t worry, the college coaches will find you”

        If you ask for advice and this is the response, whoever gave the advice just doesn’t have time to help.  If college coaches haven’t already identified you as a potential recruit, then sitting on your couch eating pizza, watching Sports Center and waiting for the phone to ring probably isn’t going to get you to the next level.  If you have the desire and believe you have the talent to play in college, then you need to do something about it.

        It’s a given that college coaches know the 5 star athletes, but that leaves plenty of roster spots available for the rest of high school athletes.  Coaches fill the large majority of their rosters with talented, coachable, hard-working student-athletes who are identified and evaluated by their coaching staff.  Your objective should be to get noticed by those coaching staffs to get recruited. Help them find you.  If you provide a college coach with your contact information, highlight video, game schedule and a way to contact your current coach, you’ve at least given them a roadmap to find you.

        “If you’re good enough, grades don’t matter”

        If someone tells you this and you believe it, your recruiting journey won’t have a happy ending. Listen, you are looking for an athletic scholarship to go to COLLEGE and get an EDUCATION.  In order to play, you have to meet the NCAA and/or NAIA academic eligibility requirements and you have to meet the entrance requirements at any school you plan to attend.

        Most high school students and their parents don’t understand the importance of academics in college recruiting and the emphasis that college athletic programs place on grades.  Quite frankly, that is somewhat surprising.  On almost every television broadcast of a college sporting event the announcers talk about “scholar athletes”, team GPA’s and team graduation rates.  College coaches want athletes in their program that will represent themselves and their university in a positive light and good grades are a good start.  College coaches are actually encouraged by their university to field a team of true “student athletes”.

        For the above reasons, a good athlete with good grades and high standardized test scores is much more attractive to a college coach than a good athlete with marginal grades and a below average ACT or SAT score.  That is a fact.  When trying to decide between two players of similar abilities, coaches will go with the better student every time.

        “Recruiting doesn’t really start until you are a junior”

        If you don’t start the recruiting process until you are a junior, it’s not too late, but it is much more difficult than if you had started as a freshman.  The earlier you start, the more options you will have.  Potential recruits are being identified earlier and earlier every year.  As crazy as it sounds, in some sports college coaches are identifying prospects as early as the 7th or 8th grade.

        I’m not suggesting that elementary students start sending emails to coaches, but as a freshman you should at least start learning about the process and identifying colleges you might be interested in.  As a sophomore, you can start the process by getting on the radar of coaches at colleges in which you have an interest.  If you do the groundwork early, your junior year will be much more productive.

        “You need an online profile if you want to be recruited”

        While an organized profile can be helpful in recruiting, that alone will not lead to a college scholarship.  In fact, if you prepare an athletic resume, it will serve the same purpose as anything you might see online.  Don’t fool yourself, the vast majority of college coaches don’t come home after practice, eat dinner, watch “The Voice” and then log onto recruiting sites to search for potential recruits.  That just doesn’t happen, and even if it did, why would your profile stand out among the thousands of other profiles?

        If you will take the time to send your relevant information to coaches at colleges that are a match for your abilities, you will be ahead of the competition.  At least this way your resume is presented to coaches that might actually be interested.


        “Your recruiting video needs to be done by a professional”

        While a professional video set to inspirational music might make your grandparent’s happy, it is certainly not necessary.  Your skills should be the focus, not how entertaining the video is.  Here are some simple tips on how to create an effective highlight video: 

        • Keep it Short – A two or three minute video is long enough. A coach will decide if he or she is interested in the first 45 seconds.
        • Put your Best Highlights First – You only get one chance at a first impression.
        • Post Your Video online – Post your video online (YouTube or Vimeo) and include the link in your first correspondence to a college coach.
        • Know What Coaches look for – Different sports require different approaches. If you are unsure about this, ask your current coach for some help.
        • Show all Your Skills – Use clips that show you’re a well-rounded athlete.
        • Video Quality is Important – Use a high definition camera or your team’s game film.

        Creating a highlight video is not hard. If you are a parent and uncomfortable working on it yourself, ask your kid! I bet they know how to do it.

        A word of warning

        The college recruiting process is not as complicated as many would have you believe.  If the above is the kind of advice you are getting, you need to ask someone else!  And the best place to start is with your current coach.

        8 Recruiting Strategies

        8 Recruiting Strategies

        Original Article By Will Heckman-Mark via blogs.usafootball.com 

        The second semester of a high school athlete’s junior year can be an extremely stressful time. The combination of social life, school, sports, extracurricular activities and the college application process all pull on a teenager’s life and can weigh down even the most determined students.

        Becky Sharpe works with thousands of high school student-athletes each year. As CEO of International Scholarship and Tuition Services, she helps manage more than 500 scholarship programs across the country, resulting in more than 1 million applications and $30 million in scholarships annually.

        Sharpe offered eight strategies to help high school juniors manage these next two years in a way that maximizes their potential to play football in college and graduate with a degree.

        1. Stay on top of academics. Colleges place great importance on grades earned during the high school junior year and continue to monitor academic progress even after a student is admitted. GPA can be weighted or unweighted depending on the school and a student’s coursework. It is important for students to make sure that their GPA is accurately represented on transcripts that are sent to colleges.
        2. Identify realistic colleges of interest. In addition to financial, geographic and athletic factors, “Look at admission standards for schools of interest,” Sharpe said. “Athletes need to understand what is required of them to be an athlete at School X and make sure it matches their ability levels. It varies by school, but all that info can be found on the school’s website.”
        3. Find football camps that will maximize exposure. “Camps are a great way to get exposed, but an invitation needs to be perceived as exactly what it is,” Sharpe said. High school coaches can be resources for an honest evaluation of an athlete’s talent level and skill set. Using that information, players can find the camps and schools that best align with their abilities and give them the chance to stand out.
        4. Research available scholarships. “There are a plethora of free scholarship sites out there,” Sharpe said. “The key to navigating the scholarship world is if it’s fee-based, you should probably question it. All legitimate sites are free such as fastweb.com, chegg.com and scholarshipmonkey.com that list free scholarships. If you are applying for financial aid, make sure you fill out a FAFSA form and share it with schools you are interested in applying to.” Many companies and colleges have their own scholarship programs. Students can ask their parents and family friends about any connection to these opportunities, research them online and contact the financial aid office at their prospective schools with questions. Most scholarships will become available in the fall of senior year, with most financial deadlines occurring the following spring.
        5. Continue offseason training programs. Augment regular physical conditioning with advice from coaches and trainers at camps. Playing other sports helps to develop overall athleticism.
        6. Keep a Hudl highlight video up-to-date. Hudl is a useful tool for showing what a player can do on the field. Make sure the video is up-to-date with the most recent game footage. “In addition to a highlight video, we suggest an introductory video, maybe 30 seconds, one minute at most, to post on social media,” Sharpe said. “Show you are well-spoken, introduce yourself to recruiters and give them a sense of why you want to play at the next level or attend their school or just why you love the game, anything to set you apart.”
        7. Maintain a positive, tasteful presence on social media. “Represent what you want a coach to see about you,” Sharpe said. “When in doubt, don’t post. Avoid instant posting. Take the time to think about it first.” Social media posts should be positive and upbeat. Sharing goals and plans to achieve them reflects positive attitude and ambition, whereas complaining and offensive material reveals immaturity. While every recruiter is different, many will only skim or glance at these accounts, so avoiding any obvious red flags is paramount.
        8. Stay organized. Staying on top of these seven goals is daunting and can overwhelm student-athletes without a proper plan. There are apps and online tools designed to assist organization. These can help to arrange priorities and meet deadlines. “In order to achieve a goal, there has to be accountability,” Sharpe said. "Find a partner or a peer group and say, ‘This is my goal and this is when I’ll reach it.' Write it down, tell someone and get them to help you – a parent, coach, friend or mentor who will push you to achieve that goal.”

        Scott Frost warns potential recruits about dangers of social media

        Scott Frost warns potential recruits about dangers of social media

        Original Article via Tim Whelan Jr. through USATodayHSS.com

        A lot has changed since Nebraska head football coach Scott Frost was being recruited as a quarterback out of Wood River (Neb.) High a quarter-century ago.

        For one, when late coaching legend Bill Walsh was trying to bring Frost to Stanford (where he played for two years before transferring to Nebraska), he didn’t have any instant access into the star recruit’s stream of consciousness musings.

        For any player Frost and other college coaches are hoping to bring in, there is now an online billboard for most players right at their fingertips. Or, as Frost put it at the Huskers’ camp recently, a résumé.

        An uncle of an attendee at one of Frost’s camps last week captured the comments as part of his YouTube camp vlog on his MyHouse TV YouTube channel.

        “Aside from GPA, when we’re recruiting kids, the next thing we’re going to look at is what kind of kid the person is,” Frost said, per the Omaha World-Herald. “And part of that is looking through every ounce of social media we can possibly look at. So if some kid tweeted something four years ago that’s bad, we’re going to know about it.

        “And I’ll tell you this right now — if there’s anything negative about women, if there’s anything racial or about sexuality, if there’s anything about guns or anything like that, we’re just not going to recruit you, period. Piece of advice for you — what you put on social media, that’s your résumé to the world. That’s what you’re trying to tell the world you’re all about. That’s how you’re advertising yourself. Be smart with that stuff.”

        As the World-Herald reported, Frost said prospects shouldn’t tweet anything their mom wouldn’t be OK with reading.

        “We will quickly drop somebody if there’s something bad on there,” Frost reiterated about social media.

        It’s a stance likely shared by most, if not all, of Frost’s brethren. Frost is trying to revive the program at his alma mater and bring it back to the national title-winning ways of when he played. It’s clear that, to do that, he has certain rules in place and a clear idea of the types of people he wants to bring in.

        And really, his advice could apply to anybody who logs into a social media account.

        Top 50 Recruiting Tips

        Top 50 Recruiting Tips

        Original Article via NCSAsports.org

        NAIA and NJCAA coaches have no restrictions on contacting potential recruits. They can call, email, text, send direct messages on Facebook, post to a recruit’s wall, and chat online— anything at any time.

        The National Letter of Intent (NLI) is a binding agreement between a prospective student- athlete and an NLI member institution. It guarantees at least a one-year athletic scholarship.


        Create an account at www.fafsa.ed.gov and apply for a PIN so that on January 1, you will be able to fill out the FAFSA forms. Money is first come, first serve!

        Communication with coaches will die down around Thanksgiving – that is the time to reach out to them!

        If an athlete fails to respond to a coach, the coach might think that athlete isn’t interested in the program. To stay on the coach’s recruiting list, be prompt, thorough, and personal when responding to correspondence.

        Connecting with the coaching staff before an unofficial visit is critical. The purpose of an unofficial visit is to allow experience campus life and build a relationship with the staff. But if the coaches are not eager to host you, they likely are not interested in recruiting you.

        A scholarship to play a “head count” sport is always a full ride scholarship. A scholarship to play an “equivalency sport” may only be a partial scholarship.

        Only send videos to college coaches who have requested them. You video might not be looked at if a coach is not expecting it, especially if the coach is from a big program that receives 50 or more videos a week. If you want to mail a video or email a link to a coach who has not requested their highlight or skills video, call to make sure the coach is expecting it.

        The following are not signs of recruitment:
        -An invitation to attend a camp
        -A generic admissions letter
        -A scout attending a game (unless the scout came to evaluate the student-athlete).

        It is never too late to be a good student. A higher GPA in later semesters can allow a coach to make a case for a previously-unqualified student-athlete to gain admissions to a college. For this reason, a student’s GPA in later semesters is more important than their GPA in early semesters.

        According to a study by the University of Virginia, 80% of female Fortune 500 CEOs describe themselves as former athletes.

        A student-athlete only has one chance to make a first impression, so parents’ help in building a child’s confidence for communicating with adults is critical. Parents should start this process early so a coach does not later mistake an athlete’s shyness for a lack of interest.

        Know The Recruiting Funnel. A college football staff:
        -Sends 10,000 to 15,000 letters
        -Watches 1000-2000 videos
        -Makes 500 phone calls to potential recruits
        -Verbally offers 65-200 scholarships
        -Invites 85 athletes on official visits
        -Signs a maximum of 25 players per year

        Communicating with coaches is the single most important aspect of the recruiting process. It should come directly from the athlete, and it should come early.

        Parents should be their child’s assistant and mentor, not just a cheerleader. The parent’s job is to prepare the child and assist with the recruitment process. The athlete should turn to the parent for help, but not for approval. Children who learn to stand on their own two feet will make better decisions and be more confident and capable.

        When reaching out to college coaches, athletes need to send emails to coaches one at a time. “CCing” several coaches, or sending a mass email, is not looked upon favorably.

        Make sure your voicemail, email, and Twitter handles are set up professionally, and are appropriate. These two small things make a huge difference in the recruiting process.

        More than 80% of college athletic opportunities are at the NCAA Division II, III, NAIA, or junior college levels, with these schools often providing more playing time, strong academics, and a better fit for the student-athlete.

        A student forced to choose between two sports should choose the sport the athlete loves most, regardless of whether this is their “stronger” sport. During college, playing a sport is a full-time job, so being passionate about the sport is critical to success and longevity.

        DIII programs offer excellent opportunities that are often overlooked because DIII programs do not technically offer athletic scholarships. But DIII schools do offer grants-in-aid and non-athletic scholarships that can make the cost of attending less than their DI & DII counterparts.

        If offered a scholarship, always ask for it in writing. Nothing is guaranteed until the athlete signs on the dotted line on Signing Day, but a written offer will provide some assurance.

        A “4-2-4 transfer” is a student-athlete who started their collegiate career at a 4-year program, transferred to a 2-year program and then ended up at another 4-year program. The most important thing to know when a student-athlete is a 4-2-4 transfer, is that they MUST graduate from the 2-year program in order to transfer to another DI program.

        Sports camps are an excellent opportunity for an athlete to build skills, experience campus life, or connect with a coach. But athletes are usually not discovered at camps. They are businesses that most often accept as many students as will pay to attend the camp, and the wide range of athletic ability makes them a bad place for coaches to recruit.

        Once awarded a scholarship, a student-athlete must maintain it, which requires three things:
        – Performing well for the team
        – Adhering to the NCAA or NAIA rules and regulations
        – Maintaining the required GPA

        Division I college coaches can’t send “recruiting materials” prior to the start of a student- athlete’s junior year of high school, but college coaches CAN and DO send the following information to student-athletes before then:
        – Questionnaires
        – Camp Brochures
        – General information about the college, generated by the admissions department

        Come prepared to “unofficial” visits; think of then as a preliminary job interview. If you’re seeking a scholarship offer from a school, prepare some thoughtful questions about the direction of the program or about the school’s academic reputation. This will show the coach you’re interested and did your research.

        The key to a successful recruiting process is knowing what to do and when and how to do it. When working toward an athletic scholarship, approach your four years of high school like you would the four quarters of a game. Although the pressure seems greatest during the third and fourth quarters, the points scored during the first half can be the difference between winning and losing.

        Reply to all correspondence you receive. Avoid judging universities based on name recognition. There are over 1,700 colleges at the NCAA Division I, Division II, Division III, NAIA, and Junior College levels. Don’t ignore any of them!

        Research, research, research. Determining your best-fit school for you involves much more than just deciding which college you like the most. Not every school you’re interested in will have a need for a student-athlete of your caliber or at your position, so you need to study and contact as many schools and coaches as you can to determine which one is best for you.

        Visit as many colleges as possible during the summer, holidays, spring break, etc. There is no limit on the number of unofficial visits you may take. Target colleges you’re interested in and that have shown interest in you. Be sure to contact coaches before you set up visits, they are typically happy to meet with an interested student-athlete. Remember, any time you call or email a coach, you gain an advantage over you competition. College coaches appreciate student-athletes who are proactive and mature.

        Many of the best financial aid packages come from “non-scholarship” Division III programs. If a Division III program wants an athlete, it often finds a need- or non-need-based scholarship that applies to the student. Division III schools give financial aid based on how much they need a student-athlete, even if it is not in the form of “athletic” scholarships. You want to have multiple opportunities to negotiate the best scholarships possible.

        The average high school coach has contact with fewer than five college coaches, most of whom are local. Student-athletes and their families are responsible for connecting with college coaches.

        An invitation for an official visit is a good sign that a scholarship offer is coming. If an athlete is not offered an official visit, they are not likely to be offered a scholarship.

        College coaches do most of their initial evaluations by looking at videos from reliable sources and delivered online. After watching a video, a coach may make an in-person evaluation.

        January 1 is the first day seniors can submit the FAFSA – do it as soon as possible! Money is given on a first come, first serve basis. You fill out the FAFSA using information from last year’s tax returns.

        College student-athletes earn, on average, between $12,850 (for in-state, public school students) to $21,266 per year (for private school students) in scholarships, grants, and financial aid every year. That adds up over the course of 4-5 years.

        Student-athletes who take the initiative to schedule unofficial visits will likely move up the recruitment list if they:
        – Bring a list of questions to ask the coach,
        – Express knowledge about the program, and
        – Arrive on time with a copy of their resume and highlight or skills video.

        The wider you cast your net looking for opportunities in college, the more you will find. Don’t fixate on “big name” schools – search high and low for the right college fit.

        College coaches send admissions materials, brochures, and questionnaires to high school students to see which ones respond. Those who do will stay on the recruiting list; those who don’t will be taken off it. If you receive a questionnaire, admissions material or brochure from a college coach – respond immediately, regardless of whether you want to attend the school. Even if you don’t, being recruited there may give you leverage down the road.

        Call, introduce yourself, and find out who you should contact before you start sending your information to a program. If you want to be considered, make sure they are expecting to hear from you.

        Make the most of official visits. Walk around campus, get a feel for the atmosphere. Do the students seem friendly? Can you imagine yourself living here for four years? Meet the team, sit in on a class, watch a practice. Pick a school you’d want to attend even if you weren’t playing sports there.

        Ask yourself these two questions when considering specific camps:
        – Has a coach from the school called me and specifically invited me to the camp?
        – Have I had any face-to-face contact with any of the coaches holding the camp?
        If the answer to both of these questions is no, the only reason to attend the camp is to build skills or gain experience.

        When you talk to a coach, always ask these two questions:
        – What can I do to have a chance to be recruited for your program and earn a scholarship?
        – What is the next step I should take with you personally?

        Research colleges and get a feel for the different types of campuses. Evaluate a wide range of schools, and understand that bigger is not always better. Division I schools do not always offer better playing time, opportunities, or education than Division III or NAIA schools.

        Request to ask the coach a few questions, but remember that they’re busy. If the coach doesn’t have time, ask when you can call the coach back. If you call a Division I or II coach before July 1 or June 15 of junior year (depending on sport), they’re not allowed to return your call. If the coach is unavailable, ask the person you speak to when you can reach the coach.

        You only get one opportunity in your life to go through the recruiting process. Both student-athletes and their families have to be completely committed. High school is about 720 days long, and after that, the recruiting process is over. How will you make the most of this small window of opportunity?

        What you do off the field is just as important as what you do on it. Excellence in the classroom tells a coach a lot about you, and determines how likely they are to recruit you. Coaches know that good students are more likely to make the most of their abilities, and stay out of trouble.

        Let your child take the lead in talking to coaches – don’t be a “helicopter parent.” College coaches don’t want to deal with players’ parents, and prying too much into the interactions between the coach and your son or daughter can hurt their chances of being recruited.

        College coaches usually begin the recruiting process by sending letters and questionnaires to the freshman student-athletes on their lists. Yon can develop relationships by calling, writing, and taking unofficial visits with the coaches. Waiting to connect with a coach might be the biggest mistake you can make! Coaches from DIII and NAIA schools can call you at any time.

        Only about 6.7% of high school athletes go on to play in college, and only 1.68% will receive an athletic scholarship to an NCAA school. Only 0.98% play on a Division I team. But there are countless non-DI colleges where you can get a world-class education: MIT, NYU, UChicago, and Williams, to name a few. Only about 15% of collegiate athletic opportunities are at the Division I Level. The rest are at the DII, DIII, NAIA, and JUCO.