Playing high school sports is a tremendous experience in which lasting memories and friendships are formed. As seniors end their athletic seasons, many of them seek opportunities to extend these experiences into the collegiate level. They have invested countless hours into becoming better athletes playing a game they love, and they realize the huge impact that competing in college can make on their lives. However, college recruitment can be a tricky process. How should families begin the journey?
According to the NCAA, there are close to 8 million high school athletes competing in a variety of sports. Of those 8 million, less than 6% will continue to play sports at the collegiate level. NCAA Division I and Division II schools provide athletic scholarships totaling around 2.7 billion dollars. While Division III schools do not offer athletic scholarships, they offer academic scholarships and need-based grants making it an affordable opportunity for athletes to extend their high school years. The NAIA, a smaller athletic division separate from the NCAA, consists of more than 250 colleges and universities. They offer athletic scholarships typically combined with academic scholarships and need-based grants. This level is comparable to NCAA Division II.
To increase an athlete’s chances of being in a position to obtain an athletic scholarship, he/she will need a “Game Plan”. This “Game Plan” begins in middle school where the foundations of work and study habits are developed. In addition to good habits, the following “College Recruitment Game Plan” is based on my personal experience of 21 years assisting student athletes who desire to play at the next level.
Academic Game Plan
This is an important aspect of the recruiting game plan. Having a 3.5 GPA or higher, along with a solid ACT/SAT test score, will open many doors for the high school athlete. Performing well in academics informs college coaches of the dedication, intelligence, and passion a student athlete possesses.
Athletic Game Plan
Playing multiple sports and showing commitment to off-season training are two key aspects of becoming a collegiate athlete. A common question asked by college coaches is, “What other sports does this prospective recruit play?” Having the ability to play multiple sports speaks of a person’s athleticism. Different types of competitive situations build experiences that will help an athlete at the next level. Off-season training is vital to competing at a higher level and gives an athlete the advantage in future performances.
Click here to read our post about the benefits of playing multiple sports.
Promoting/Recruiting Game Plan
It is important to seek out colleges that fit an athlete’s gifts and academic interests. Emailing coaches is a vital part of promoting student athletes and should begin after compiling varsity game highlights. When emailing coaches, provide a short introduction, video highlight link, GPA, height, weight, and position. Interest in the college/university and attendance of athletic camps should also be expressed in these emails. Attending a camp can make the difference in a college recruiting an athlete or not. Finally, recruits should complete the “Recruiting Questionnaire” located on the school's website.
Social Media Game Plan
Social media should be maximized to promote the student athlete because coaches will follow potential recruits. Make sure all social media accounts are clean. Avoid posting, liking, or re-tweeting anything that may be perceived as negative and/or inappropriate. Remember that regardless of the application, posts can become permanent with a simple screenshot. While social media is a great platform to share an athlete’s character, work ethic, and dedication, many athletes have lost scholarship opportunities due to inappropriate posts or comments.
College recruiting can be frustrating at times. I would advise student athletes who would like to extend their athletic career to be patient in the process and stay focused on their goal. Good academic and athletic habits in middle school pave the way for success in high school which can result outstanding opportunities for college. It is important for student athletes to press on and put themselves in positions to reach their goals and dreams.
Data mentioned in this blog and additional resources can be found at: