Keep reading if you want to learn how high school students can use LinkedIn for career and college research. If you’re a video/visual learner, get our free training video. We created an entire 30-minute training video that hows you how to unlock the power of LinkedIn for your college and career research, and we’d LOVE to send it to you. Click here to download this FREE training video!
Hey high-school students! Did you know that the minimum age for having a LinkedIn account is just 16? Many high schools now teach students how to use of LinkedIn for networking. I think that’s brilliant. LinkedIn offers tips for high-school students wanting to set up a LinkedIn account for networking. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/linkedin-tips-high-school-students-judy-schramm/ It’s pretty helpful. Check it out.
However, what’s incredibly cool is how LinkedIn can be a high-school student’s powerful research tool to find colleges and careers. Teens can tap into the power of LinkedIn to find potential careers and colleges that may interest you.
Today, I’m talking to the high-school student (or parent of a student) who has no earthly clue what they want to major in at college. What’s worse is the fact that this cluelessness is holding up their entire college search. Many teens think that before they start looking at schools, they have to figure out what they want to do with the rest of their lives. False! (Thank you, Dwight Schrute).
You do NOT need to choose a major before you go to college. Many students head to college believing that they’ll figure it out along the way, and most of them do. Even your friends who sound incredibly sure of themselves about what they want to do with the rest of their lives will likely change their mind.
Use LinkedIn as a research tool to find interesting careers and colleges.
First step for high school students is to set up a LinkedIn account.
Head on over to LinkedIn and follow the steps to create your account. You can choose to add information to your profile right away, or stick to the bare minimum for now. You can always update your profile later.
Next, teens can tap into LinkedIn for career research.
LinkedIn is a gigantic search engine you can use to research companies, jobs they offer, the people who work for those companies and even the career paths of those employees! Imagine how powerful this insight could be when considering your own career and educational path.
As one example, I used the Search tool at the top of the LinkedIn homepage to search a company I’ve always admired: Adidas. Once I landed on Adidas’ company profile page, I scrolled down and took note of what I could learn there:
Holy cow! Is that gorgeous, super cool building their office?
Wow, they just launched a new Brand Center in Beijing!
Hey, cool article about the legendary Stan Smith
Under their About section, I learned that they have 60K employees worldwide and could view their company locations on a global map.
High school students can learn what types of jobs exist by using the Jobs section of LinkedIn.
Sticking with my Adidas search, I clicked on the Jobs tab of their company profile. I found some really interesting titles, like this. At this point, I have no idea what some of these words even mean, but if there’s one that piqued my interest, I clicked on the job and could read the job description, which gave me a really good sense of whether or not that’s a job I’d enjoy.
For example, I clicked on a job posting for a “Copywriter Digital Creative” because I like writing, and I like being creative. I had to wade through a bunch of words I barely understood, but I did learn some things that this job would entail, the types of titles a copywriter would work with, AND I learned under “Requirements” that they’d be looking for someone who’d majored in something related to Writing, Creative Writing, Communications or “Other Media”. Hmmmmm….super helpful.
Narrow your job search by using keywords to zero in on topics of interest.
Maybe it sounds too time-consuming to navigate to job postings by starting with a company search. No problem! You can access the Jobs section of LinkedIn from the homepage and narrow your search by entering keywords into the search tool. Maybe you have a family friend who has a career in Marketing, and you think that sounds interesting. Type “marketing” into the search tool and choose any location that sounds intriguing. You’ll be amazed how much you’ll learn about the types of jobs, titles and careers that exist within your broad field of interest.
Dig deeper by looking at People profiles.
Once you find a job title that really interests you, go back to the homepage. Use the search tool to type in the title you’d like to know more about. I typed in VP Marketing to see what people have that job title. I then clicked on a profile for someone who is a VP of Marketing at a company I think is super cool: Google.
Once I was on his profile page, I could scroll down and see not only information about the job he currently has, but also what he’d done before that. This is called his “career path”. This is important because while my goal may be to one day be a Vice President of Marketing, I need to understand the jobs and steps that come before that. I was even able to see where this person attended college and what he majored in!
High-school students keep digging, keep exploring to find potential careers and colleges using LinkedIn.
One profile won’t tell you everything you need to know. You’ll need to keep exploring to confirm your findings, expand your understanding and identify options for both colleges and careers that you should check out.
I guarantee that reallocating some of your scroll time to LinkedIn from Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube will help you identify some outstanding options for career categories and colleges that should be on your list for consideration.
Paying for college and who pays for what and when is among the most challenging topics between teens and parents. In your family, does everyone understand who pays for what and when for college costs? For most families, the answer is no.
Most families aren’t talking early enough or often enough about who pays for college. Not enough families are openly asking enough questions of each other when it comes to who’s paying for what college costs and when. In its most recent survey of college costs, the College Board reports that the average cost of attendance for in-state students at a four-year public institution for the 2020-2021 academic year averaged $26,820. This means that even an in-state, public college education is a six-figure decision. It warrants clear conversation about who’s paying for college costs or how college costs will be shared among parents and the student.
Do yourself a favor when it comes to determining who’s paying for college.
On or before your child’s 12th birthday, please have this conversation: “We think it’s important for you to go to college, or at least consider your college options. Here’s what we’re going to do to help…” If your student is older than 12, then have the conversation as soon as possible once you and your spouse or significant other come to agreement about who pays for college and your family’s college cost arrangement.
Families that fail to address the college cost question suffer from consequences of poor communication and poor planning. Even if it’s uncomfortable, speak openly and in quantifiable terms about all three components of this college planning question: who, what and when. Who pays for college? What college costs are covered by parents, and what college costs are covered by the student? When (and under what conditions) will college costs be covered? None of these variables is optional when it comes to paying for college.
Why it’s tough to talk about paying for college.
When you shop for a car, new or used, you can assume that the price you see on the window sticker or scribbled across the windshield is not the final price you will pay. Factoring in a trade, the actual price may be 5, 10 or even 20% lower than that of the sticker. We all have a ballpark price in mind when we visit an auto dealer, or we can access one in a blue book. Houses are largely the same, but without the possible trade-in value. The people who determine college costs, however, seem to go to great lengths to prevent you from feeling any sort of comfort level or command of what you’ll pay for college. College tuition may be $25,000/year, but you really have no idea what you will pay with everything thrown in. In fairness, great strides have been made by institutions of higher learning (with considerable arm twisting from the federal government) to get you a ballpark figure early on in the college planning process using tools such as net price calculators.
Outline who’s paying for college and which college costs are covered by whom in writing.
How do you talk about who will pay for what for college (and when) if you don’t know how much college will cost? Starting college research early helps you develop solid cost estimates to work with. College websites are now much more helpful in helping you to get a sense of what you’ll pay for college.
Once you’ve done your college research, write it down, and do the math. Make it clear to both parents and to the student who’s paying for which colleges costs and what the totals are per year. Create a college cost template based on what you as a parent can and are willing to contribute. This template spells out the college financing categories (or portions thereof) for which each party will be responsible. Here are four examples:
“Mom and I will pay for all tuition, fees and books at an in-state public university. Everything beyond that is yours.”
“We will contribute $30,000 per year for four years. If you go somewhere more expensive or take more than four years, you’re responsible for the balance. And no, we will not ‘refund the difference’ if you graduate in three and a half years or choose a very inexpensive option.”
“It’s 50-50 all the way.”
“We’ll pay for everything, but we want you to work at least ten hours per week so you learn how to manage your time, just like in the real world. You can keep what you earn, but you have to work.”
As one college planning example, my parents paid for tuition and fees plus a book allowance and required each of their three sons to pick up the tab for room and board, plus spending money. Each of us chose public universities, but the idea was that we would have the option to attend a more expensive private institution without incurring significantly greater debt. For the most part, room and board is the same at Harvard as it is at Des Moines Area Community College.
You’re essentially creating a college financing contract, and it’s perfectly acceptable to include performance clauses. Setting basic benchmarks such as “satisfactory progress in all courses” or “maintain a 3.0 cumulative GPA” works well. Whether or not you put this onto paper is up to you, but the basic premise of “If I do this, I expect you to do that” helps eliminate surprises.
Bring to the college planning conversation your own experiences and arrangements with your parents, but keep in mind that working your way through college has become significantly more difficult as college costs have escalated. In fact, this approach can actually be counterproductive if a student devotes so much time and energy to earning money that she is left with little time to study. She ends up working extremely hard to pay for something that has less than optimum value.
Many families simply tell children not to worry about college costs, or not to worry about it while searching, but this can cause confusion. Instead, have the college cost conversation wrapped up prior to senior year. If the message is, “Don’t worry about it for now,” the impression you leave may be that money is no object or that a student really shouldn’t worry and therefore not plan and save for her college financing portion.
College planning questions to consider when it comes to paying for college.
How does an intended major impact this question, i.e. am I as a parent more willing to support a future anesthesiologist vs. an anthropologist?
If a student delays admission by taking a “gap year”, how does that change things?
Who gets credit for merit scholarships?
How about study abroad programs? Who pays for that?
What stipulations are there for semesters beyond the traditional four years?
How does a possible journey into grad school factor into all of this?
Making the effort to have open, honest conversations about money and college financing is far better than the consequences of NOT having these conversations. Be bold. Be open. You’ll be glad that you were.
We’ve helped thousands of students and families over more than 10 years, and can lend insight to your college cost and college planning conversations. Email me anytime or schedule a free consult to get your college questions answered.
When it comes to researching colleges online, a word of caution. Much of what you find when you start typing words into Google is going to be junk, which isn’t exactly news to you. Instead of Googling “best colleges for future doctors” or “occupational therapy majors,” start with the best resources for information on colleges. These are the tools I use as a professional college planner for my first-step, basic research. Some are better than others for specific search functions, so plug in some criteria and test them out. Use the tools that you like best.
Whenever I turn to a website such as these, I always take the results with a grain of salt and use them only as a starting point. If you find that College X has biochemical engineering, go directly to their website and do more digging to confirm the initial results, and then make contact with someone at the school who can tell you more and answer some questions.
Get Better College Information By Going Beyond Online Research
After you’ve done your research online, including spending significant amounts of time on the college websites for the schools that interest you most, you need to make contact with the schools that interest you. Yes, this means picking up that 50-pound phone and calling someone you don’t know who is probably older than 30 and asking good questions. This is the first step in an ongoing dialogue between you, the prospective student and family, and the college.
Before you pick up the phone or fire off an email, consider these guidelines for effective college search dialogue.
Find the right person to ask.
If you have questions about the college in general, ask admissions. If your questions are specifically about majors or programs, find a professor or administrative professional within the department, such as program coordinators. When applying to grad programs in the early 1990′s (read: largely pre-internet) I found myself communicating much more frequently and with greater success with administrative assistants than professors. They were easy to reach because they sit next to a phone, and they knew all the details about how to apply, deadlines, requirements, etc.
Don’t ask for answers that are readily available on the website.
If what you’re looking for doesn’t jump out at you, ask another family member to search for it, or use the search box that is usually in the upper right-hand corner of each page. It’s a sign of laziness to ask, “How many students do you have at your college?” It also sends the message that you can’t find answers on your own. If you legitimately can’t find basic data, then by all means ask.
Keep your queries brief and professional.
Whether you’re 17 or 47, a well-written email with a succinct introductory sentence and closing statement works best. A variation on the email template here always works well.
Hello [salutation if available]
My name is _____ and I’m a sophomore/junior at [high school] in [town and state]. I’m very interested in [name of college] and specifically in your [major or department]. I have three questions I’d like to ask:
How many of the students in your [academic program] enter the workforce immediately vs. going on to graduate school?
What sets [college]’s [major] apart?
What new classes or facilities could I expect to see if I enroll?
Thank you for your time and attention to these questions. Sincerely,
You may not get an immediate response, but you will get a response. If you don’t try someone else, or call to see if that person is traveling or on leave from the university.
4. Treat this as the first step in a larger conversation.
My rule of thumb is to never ask more than three questions in a single email. Don’t deluge the person with so many questions that she can’t respond in a timely manner. When you receive a response, it’s likely to include a “please let me know if you have more questions”, and while you don’t want to take advantage of that person’s time, you should take her at her word. Thank her for her time and send a follow-up question if you have one.
Between diligent online and offline research, you’ll be well on your way to identifying some colleges that could be great fits for you. For help defining the University of You and exploring great college options based on your unique needs, goals and passions, email me about our College Search services or schedule a free consult here. This is my life and my passion to help students find their best college fit!
In 2020, more than ever before, your college essay matters. The college essay is 4th on the list of the things colleges look for in applicants, in order of importance. True, it comes after the rigor of your curriculum, your GPA and standardized test scores (if you’re submitting them). It ranks higher on the list than your extracurricular activities! It’s a great way for college admissions officers to get to know you. In the event that students are not submitting ACT or SAT scores, the essay is even more important. It conveys the type of person you are and what you’ll contribute to that school, if admitted.
We have an entire course devoted to college applications and essays. It’s called the College Applications & Essays Bootcamp, and it could help seniors still wrestling with the overwhelming task of writing killer essays and completing the Common App.
The college admissions office uses your college essay(s) to better understand who you truly are, what makes you tick, what your passions are and what you’d bring to their campus. They’re reviewing your essay in context with the rest of your college application, so tell them something they CAN’T learn from the other materials you’re submitting. Yes, you can write about an activity that’s already included on your list of activities, but make sure you say something new and deeper than what you’ve already told them throughout the rest of your college application.
Here are some college essay tips, if you want to do this thing right. There are 7 of them, plus a .5 bonus tip to make your essay truly one-of-a-kind.
7 College Essay Tips to Tell Your Story Well
Tip 1: Consider “optional” college essays to be required for you.
Assume “optional” = required. You’ll write essays for the Common App, for particular institutions and also for scholarships, both institutional and private. The Common App essays are more general, while the supplemental essays required by some colleges tend to be more specific, e.g. “Why Duke?” Any essay listed as optional should be considered required. You want to show you’re the type of person who’ll go above and beyond, not that you are simply willing to meet minimum requirements. Get used to it. That’s how most things go in life.
Tip 2: Don’t try to cram your entire life story into a 650-word college essay.
Pick your moment, and go deep rather than broad. 650 words is not a lot of space, essentially one full page, single-spaced. One of the biggest mistakes we see students make is trying to cover too much ground. Pick a moment, experience or situation that enables you to reveal who you are at your core. The moment doesn’t have to be earth-shattering or monumental. It can actually be something very simple. Some of the best essays we’ve seen take a moment that’s actually pretty ordinary and MAKE it something unique, something that says something about the author. One student wrote about building a bird house with her grandfather. Another wrote about noticing that the corn field near her house had been turned into suburbs, and it made her think differently about time passing.
Tip 3: Focus on the story you want to tell, not what you think they want to hear.
It’s going to be difficult to be anyone but you, and why would you want to be? The essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice. What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores? Choose the option that best helps you answer that question and write an essay of no more than 650 words, using the prompt to inspire and structure your response.
Tip 4: Pay attention to college essay word counts before you start.
Nothing’s more heartbreaking than drafting a 500-word college essay and then learning you’re only allowed 300 words. In most cases you are asked to respond to a “prompt” within a specific word limit (650 or less for Common App and usually 300-500 for others). Do not go beyond the stated limits, and avoid unusually brief essays. Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal. Use the full range if you need it, but don’t feel obligated to do so. (The application won’t accept a response shorter than 250 words.)
Tip 5: In your college essay, convey not just events, but also your outlook on them.
Getting to know you is as much about learning how you view the world and why, as it is what you’ve done. Give some thought to who you are, how you think, why you think the way you do. Start by making a list of your best qualities: persistent, funny, empathetic, creative, observant, others-focused, adventurous. Think about WHO YOU ARE. THEN consider a moment, experience or scene that enables you to SHOW ME, versus TELL ME, that this is who you are. Learning that you ran your first 10K last year is less important than learning how accomplishing this goal changed you, shaped you, what it taught you about yourself.
Tip 6: Remember that your college essay is an essay, not an expose.
Honesty is good. Brutal and unabashed honesty in the form of a true confession makes admissions officers squeamish, and with good reason. This is not the time to confess to anything illegal or immoral. Sharing serious challenges you’ve faced is great, but remember that you’re talking to people who’ve never met you, not your best friend. Above all, admissions officers are looking for a personal expression of who you are, what you believe and what makes you tick – in the form of a well-crafted and thoughtful essay. Be yourself and write from your own point of view, but don’t be different just to be different or to shock.
Tip 7: Give your college essay the time and attention it deserves.
Writing your college essay doesn’t have to consume you for a month straight, but don’t wing it, either. Assume that this will take time, thought and work, as well as rework. Think of any great high school paper you ever wrote. Was that done hastily and in one draft? Probably not, if it was done well. This college essay is of greater importance, so give it its due. Your college essays, if done well, enable you to get to know yourself better, as well as learning how to succinctly present yourself to a brand new audience. This is something you’ll have to do throughout your life, for internships, job interviews, even dating and friendships. Embrace the challenge, enjoy it and create space for yourself to do your best.
And for the bonus point (or 1/2 point…)
BONUS COLLEGE ESSAY TIP
Challenge yourself to write an essay that couldn’t possibly have anyone else’s name at the top.
Once you get a rough draft down, ask yourself, could this essay have been written by anyone else? Is it uniquely me? Does it convey my own unique outlook and perspective? If not, take another pass through it and inject more YOU. Make your college essay a unique expression of who you really are. That is the goal of the college essay(s), to get to know YOU. So be YOU.
“With so many schools being test optional for the classes of 2021 and 2022, can I just ignore the ACT?” This is a really common question we’ve received lately from high-school students and parents. Too many people are taking an all or nothing approach, thinking that either 1) nothing’s changed, or 2) everything’s changed, and the ACT is just going away. The real answer is an involved conversation that’s specific to your student, their scores and the schools they’re considering. To talk through your student’s unique situation, schedule a free consult anytime.
If you’re a junior or the parent of a junior, this flowchart makes a complex decision process a bit more simple. We walk through it in the video and in the blog post below. Download the PDF here.
Could a strong ACT score help the Class of 2022 for college admissions?
YES, even at test-optional schools, provided that your score falls within the school’s “middle 50% ACT range” and ideally toward the higher end of that range.
Dig deeper than just whether you HAVE to have an ACT score or not in order to apply. The more important question is, could a strong ACT score HELP YOU?
Think about a baseball player who spends extra time working on their swing or a basketball player who invests time stroking those threes. They’re controlling what they can control. They want a competitive edge to get up to varsity or increase their chances to play at the next level. The same is true with the ACT. It’s not what you HAVE to do. It’s what you CAN do to play at your best possible level. The goal when you’re a junior is to enhance and expand college options.
Putting in extra effort could benefit you, even if ACT scores are not REQUIRED for admission.
This is because test-optional doesn’t mean test BLIND. Test-optional schools don’t REQUIRE you to submit an ACT or SAT score as part of your college application, but they WILL consider it if you submit it. Wouldn’t it be great to have an ACT score in hand that you WANT to submit because it strengthens your application?
If you’re able to earn an ACT score that is within (and ideally at the higher end of) a school’s “mid-range ACT”, then that ACT score COULD help you gain acceptance to that school.
A rigorous high-school curriculum including challenging courses
Your ACT or SAT score
Your college essay
Your extra-curricular activities
For test-optional schools, if you skip #3, they don’t penalize you. They evaluate you as an applicant based on the other four things. If those four things are exceptionally strong, then you don’t need the ACT score to get in. If those other four elements combined are NOT better-than-average compared to that school’s admitted students, then a strong ACT score could STILL be an important card to play for college applications.
For juniors still shopping for schools, a stronger ACT score can expand options.
Most juniors don’t yet have their “college shopping cart” finalized. They’re still looking around. That’s never been more true than in 2020, when a global pandemic has made college campus visits challenging. At OnCampus College Planning, we like to shop around when it comes to colleges.
When I’m looking at colleges, I’m comparing my practice ACT exam score to the “mid-range ACT scores” for the schools I’m looking at to see how I stack up. To do this, go to collegedata.com and set up a free account. Look up the mid-range ACT scores for schools you’re considering. How does your score compare? Juniors, if you haven’t yet taken a full-length ACT practice exam to gauge how you’ll do on the real thing, sign up here to do so FREE at our office.
Let’s look at one example. The University of Wisconsin’s middle 50% ACT range is 27-32. That means half of the kids who applied and were accepted last year (whether or not they chose to be Badgers) came in between a 27 and a 32 on the ACT. One quarter of UW’s accepted students were below a 27, and one quarter were above a 32. That’s really high.
To discover the middle-50% ACT ranges at schools you’re considering, set up an account on collegedata.com, and look it up. Or email me, and we’ll help you figure it out.
If early on in your junior year, you take a practice ACT exam and don’t like what you see, you then have time to consider your options.
What are my options to gain a stronger ACT score for college applications?
The best option depends on each student and the schools they’re considering. Looking at an example of a student who wants to attend UW and is sitting with a 24 on the ACT, consider these options.
With a super strong GPA, you may be able to withhold your ACT scores and still be accepted. The UW’s average GPA for admitted students is 3.86. If you have a 4.0, a rigorous curriculum for your high-school courses, a great essay and outstanding extracurricular activities, then you have four strong cards in your hand to play, and you don’t need that 5th card: a strong ACT score.
If your GPA isn’t at or above the average GPA for admitted students, then can you move your ACT score up? We’re working with a ton of students who want to invest time preparing for the ACT in order to have another strong card in their hand to play for college admissions, even for schools where ACT scores are optional.
Depending on which schools you’re considering, it’s not just a matter of getting in. You’ll also want to consider whether stronger ACT scores could help you earn merit aid that saves you thousands on college tuition. If you’re a Wisconsin resident and looking at UW, this isn’t a big consideration. But if you’re looking at out-of-state schools or private schools, and they include ACT scores for merit aid consideration, that strong ACT score could help you save money on college tuition.
How can a strong ACT score help you save money on college?
There are not one, but actually two considerations for whether or not a stronger ACT score is worth the effort and investment for you. One is college admissions. The other is merit aid.
Merit aid scholarships have nothing to do with financial need. For out-of-state public universities as well as for private colleges and universities, you should be looking at not just admission requirements, but also merit aid criteria.
Depending on the schools you’re considering, even if you can earn admittance with (or without) an ACT or SAT score, you may want to strengthen your scores to save money on tuition. This is a school-by-school, student-by-student conversation, and we can talk that through with you during a free consult.
What’s next for juniors wondering about the ACT and college options?
Juniors, now’s the time to figure out what the middle 50% ACT ranges and average GPAs are at schools you’re considering. That way, you’ll know what you’re shooting for.
If you’ve not yet taken a practice ACT exam and want to do so for free, you can schedule that here.
If you’re not sure whether or not ACT Test Prep is a worthwhile investment for you, or you wonder what your ACT Test Prep options are, email me and let’s talk it through. I’m always happy to answer questions to help students and parents get clear and get confident about your college choices.
Thinking about playing a sport in college? High-school athletes everywhere are feeling anxious about their college athletics recruiting paths. We’re now six months into Covid, and it’s the beginning of another school year. The start of school usually brings the start of fall sports, and yet many athletes are dealing with cancelled or restricted sports schedules. You’re not alone in your confusion and anxiety over how to navigate college athletics recruiting in the age of Covid. Just yesterday, I received this text from a mom with a junior son.
Trying to figure out how to navigate this crappy junior year for “Jacob”…I know you are in the same boat. We haven’t thought about ACT prep, and “Jacob” is not really motivated about it…Additionally, trying to figure out how we even begin to create a list of schools for him to explore. Starting to look through a list of D2/3 schools with NCAA programs but have no idea how to tackle this. Can you guys help? Not convinced this year’s season will happen. He has been playing with an unknown AAU team the last few summers, but we are starting to explore some more competitive teams to try to get on, to help get him exposure.
5 Key Actions to Jump Start Your Recruiting Process in 2020
Action Step 1: Understand the NCAA Guidelines
Read the NCAA Guide for the College-Bound Student Athlete. This is the guide book for following the rules you’ll need to know and follow in order to be eligible to compete in college. This is especially important now, when things are changing rapidly. Know and understand the academic standards to be able to compete at each level.
Action Step 2: Create Your Athletic Recruiting Profile Online
Find AND TAKE FULL ADVANTAGE OF the recruiting engine that is used by your sport. If you’re not sure, your athletic coach can direct you. For swimming, it’s College Swimming. For volleyball, choose University Athlete, Captain U or SportsRecruits. For soccer, it’s RecruitChute or SportsRecruits. Online recruiting engines help college coaches to see and evaluate you, and it is based upon the sport that you are interested in. Especially now, with reduced or restricted sports seasons, college coaches are spending more time online to discover up-and-coming athletes. Make sure you can be found where they’re looking for talent!
Be sure to complete the entire profile. Some are paid; others offer free versions. Add video, your GPA and ACT/SAT info, and additional activities. Make sure to keep your profile up to date! If your sport has few or no traditional competitions right now, you may need to get creative about showing your skills with video. For example, one creative volleyball player we know showed off her vertical skills and strength with a video of her jumping onto counter tops from floor level and even jumping over family members while they lay down on the lawn. That’s making the best of a challenging situation!
Don’t let cancelled games and tournaments stop you from doing what you CAN to show coaches your gumption, grit and skills. Be resourceful. Be proactive. Take the initiative.
Action Step 3: Reach out to college coaches
Have you contacted college coaches at schools in which you have interest? College athletic recruiting is a two-way street, so your outreach is important, especially in the midst of Covid. Take initiative and reach out to coaches to establish a relationship and let them know you’re interested in their program. Permissible contact varies by Division and sport. In more usual times, camps and clinics have been a way for coaches to be in touch with players. In an era of Covid, you’ll need to be more proactive about reaching out via phone calls and emails to coaches.
This is probably the biggest area of change we have seen versus in the past! If you are interested in a school, let them know! Parents, this is your student athlete’s responsibility. College coaches want to hear from THEM, not from you! In fact, if college coaches hear directly from parents instead of student athletes, it can actually be a red flag for them. One of our junior athletes who’s in contact with several college coaches right now told us that one college coach told her that she is on their short list for consideration in large part because she’s been proactive and persistent about reaching out to them.
Action Step 4: Research colleges and universities to find your fit.
At OnCampus College Planning, we focus on helping you find both the right team AND the right school for you. You’ll need to research schools that are a good fit for you not only athletically, but also academically, socially, financially and geographically. Our College Search services help you do just that, starting with defining your unique Needs, Wants, Don’t Needs and Don’t Wants, and getting really clear about your top priorities for an ideal college experience. We have an entire process designed exclusively to help students unearth their best college options, including athletic, academic and other considerations. There are thousands of options out there, and we can help you find hidden gems and high-value colleges that will reward you for your athletic, academic and other abilities and achievements.
Action Step 5: Visit Colleges (Virtually, When You Can’t Visit In Person)
Visit schools where there is mutual interest, even if that means starting with virtual visits. Getting on campus in person is ideal, but this is not an ideal year. That doesn’t mean do nothing. It means get creative and proactive. Colleges are STILL passionate about helping you explore what they have to offer, and so they’ve stepped up their game, offering robust virtual tours, if they are not physically open. You can (and should) schedule a college campus visit sooner than later. Schedule “unofficial visits” at any time through the Office of Admissions for that school. We’ve also seen students make tremendous progress recently with in-person, “self-guided” tours, especially in cases where they’re going to be in the area anyway. If your family’s traveling, if you do have competitions that include travel, or if you’re simply checking out colleges within driving distance, it can be well worth your time. Follow up your online research and outreach to admissions personnel with actually getting boots on campus for a self-guided tour that gives you a feel for the school, its facilities and amenities.
Ideally, you could coordinate schedules, so that while you’re on campus, you could talk with a coach in the athletic area that you are interested in and with the office of admissions.
We have had many students go on their own tours of universities all summer long, even when admissions offices are closed.
The point is, don’t play the waiting game while other student athletes are preparing to play college sports. Contact OnCampus College Planning for additional guidance on how best to visit your schools of interest as soon as possible. We can help answer your questions and point you in the right direction, based on which schools you’re considering.