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 daughters 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 one’s 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 1,300 colleges at the NCAA D1, D2 & D3 level, not to mention hundreds more at the JUCO and NAIA level.
You may have to research 100 colleges throughout the country and then narrow down your list based on your criteria and the recruiting feedback you get after contacting those coaches!
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 30,000 applications and admits roughly 9% of applicants each year. Despite your academic record, Harvard is going to turn down over 28,000 students each year, some of them being incredibly smart and gifted students.
While you may have the desire and ability to attend a certain school, it’s important to research and apply to a wide range of schools that fit what you are looking for.
You can never assume you will be accepted to or will be recruited to play at one particular school and you need options.
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 scorer’s on every team at every high school, but it doesn’t mean those 20,000 leading scorer’s are all talented enough to play college athletics.” – The love, time, money, and passion you have poured into your son or daughter’s 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, 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 as well. It’s not about rules; it’s about understanding and working with the process.
Learn the basics ahead of time and ask questions along the way to your guidance counselor, coaches, or anyone that has been through this process before.