I would like to pick up where I left off in my last blog titled, “Insights into the College Recruiting Process, Where to Begin.” If your kids have chosen to pursue their athletic careers at the college level, there are several steps to take to make sure that they end up at the school that is the best fit for them.
We have discussed the first few steps in the college search process, which include visiting all types of colleges and universities—big, small, urban, rural, Divisions I, II and III. You also should talk with your family to identify the characteristics of a school that are important to you. If you have been in touch via e-mail or phone with the coaches at the college, you will have asked them several questions about athletics, academics and campus culture at the school.
One of the next steps is to set up a campus visit to explore the school and meet with the coaches and the players on the team. This could be either a casual afternoon visit, or a visit where you stay overnight with members of the team. Either way, some dos and don’ts will help you get the most out of your time on the campus.
Contact the Coach before Your Visit
If you are planning a brief visit to a college, you may want to take a campus tour, attend an information session with the Admissions Department and talk with the coach of the team you are interested in joining. Be sure to contact the coach before the visit to set up the time and place of the meeting. Reaching out to the coach before your visit shows that athletics are an important part of your college experience. College coaches are very busy throughout the day and an unannounced visit will take them away from whatever they have scheduled for the day. If you let them know that you are visiting in advance, they will know you are serious about athletics. They can plan their schedule ahead of time and therefore be prepared to talk with you about their program.
Parents, when coaches ask your kids questions, make sure to let your kids answer them. Coaches want to hear from the players themselves. And kids, make sure to treat your parents respectfully during your meeting. Coaches will notice if this is not the case and will not be keen on welcoming a negative attitude onto their team. And, when talking about past coaches for whom your kids have played, try to keep your comments positive. Coaches may anticipate that those complaints will continue when you become a part of their team. You want to put your best foot forward. Talk about what is important to you for your college experience. Convey your passion for the sport and your desire to be a positive and contributing member to both the college’s athletic program and its campus community.
Talk to Current Athletes
You may also ask them if they can set up a meeting with some players on the team. It is important to meet with the team members to get their feedback on their experience. In the last blog, we talked about some questions to ask the coaches. Here are some questions to ask the players:
- What happens when you have a class which conflicts with a practice or game?
- Will the time commitment that I make to my sport prevent me from pursuing the major that I am interested in?
- How long are practices? What time are they during the day? What is the time commitment in both the competitive season and in the offseason? How far do you travel for games?
- Are their academic support resources set up for varsity student-athletes?
- Are you able to study abroad for a semester? Is there time to get involved in other activities on campus? Are you able to play two sports?
- Are players required to live in certain housing?
- What is coach’s coaching style? How is playing time awarded? Does he/she support your interests outside of soccer?
- Ask them to describe their daily routine. How much time is devoted to their sport, their academics, and their social life?
Another great way to learn more about a college and its athletic programs, are to attend an “ID Clinic” or a summer camp. These events normally incorporate practice time when you are out on the field with other prospective student-athletes, a campus tour and a question and answer period with both the coaches and the players. The clinics give the coaches an opportunity to evaluate several players and it gives the prospects an opportunity to learn more about the student-athlete experience at that particular school. When you are given the opportunity, ask the coaches and players as many questions that you can. You want to leave the campus feeling informed about what the future would hold.
Other Tips for Visits
Some other useful activities to plan on your campus visit could be:
- Meet with a representative from the Financial Aid Office if you plan to apply for financial aid. They can walk you through the process.
- At some colleges, an interview with a member of the Admissions Office in an important part of the application process. You should contact Admissions before your visit to schedule the interview.
- You probably want to take some time to explore the local community. Is it safe? Does it offer off campus activities that you would enjoy?
- Check out the athletic facilities that you would be using, i.e. fields, weight training room, courts, training room, etc.
In my next blog, I plan to discuss the timetable of the recruiting process. What should you be doing, and when? I would love to respond to any questions you have. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
-by Kelly Tyrrell, Sports Director