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.
Are you in the same boat? In these unprecedented times, these 5 strategies can get your college athletic recruiting process moving. We can help you take your recruiting process to the next level, prepare for the ACT and help you find the University of You!
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.
If you’re a prospective student athlete wanting a partner who can help you navigate college recruiting, finding the right college options or prepping for the ACT, schedule a free consult soon, or contact us.