Being a recruited athlete is an easy way to "get to the front of the line" in the admissions process. However, the recruitment process is tedious and requires a significant time commitment on the part of the athlete -- to say nothing of the time which must be committed to the sport itself. Additionally, student athletes are on a different college application timeline than most students because many coaches finalize their list of recruited students the summer before senior year. For this reason, it's imperative that they make it a priority to get on a coach's radar and visit schools as soon as possible. In my new book, B+ Grades, A+ College Application, I describe the recruitment process in detail with help from my colleague and experienced athletic director, Andrew Herman. However, it's still summertime, so I thought I'd share some helpful tips on what student athletes can be doing now to help themselves get recruited before school and practice start up again.
• If you're a rising sophomore or junior, start your college search by putting together a list of potential colleges that might be a good fit based on your academic strengths and athletic abilities. Even if your list seems long, it is wise to keep your options open because you still have time to improve as both a student and an athlete. Once it is time to apply, you can narrow down your list as necessary, but keep an open mind in the meantime! Making a list of schools earlier in the process also allows more time for contacting coaches and planning visits to campuses. Keeping a broader field now means more flexibility down the road.
• Now is the time to familiarize yourself with the NCAA. It's easy to get confused when
researching colleges individually since each NCAA classification (Division I, II, and III) has its own rules and regulations. When putting together your college list, the NCAA website
is a helpful and comprehensive resource for an athlete. It provides detailed
information about college athletic programs including academic requirements, team rankings, and individual player statistics.
• Seek out role models to help you better understand and research the recruiting process for your particular sport. Role models such as your coach or senior members of your team can shed light on how much training is required. These mentors will likely know which alumni from your high school have been recruited in the past. You can also seek out information online by researching college athletes' bios to see if you can spot some themes (e.g., Did all the baseball players at your top-choice school attend a particular summer training camp?). By reading up in this way, you will see what it took for them to get where you want to be.
• It may be the off-season, but summer is the perfect time to sharpen your athletic skills and play your sport better. Focus on honing your athletic ability and staying in shape by playing for tournaments and investing time in outside training. For most sports, it's also important to begin a weight-training program because you will be soon playing against college athletes who are bigger, faster, and stronger.
• Finally, because it is the summertime, stay hydrated!