The USA TODAY High School Sports Recruiting Tips are provided by our recruiting partner, Playced.com.
Contacting the wrong schools and hoping for a miracle is the No. 1 disconnect for most college recruits. Anyone can contact a college, but the key is getting a response. There is no combination of words that can convince a coach you are qualified for his or her roster if you aren’t. And there is no way to explain away a few years of poor grades or mediocre test scores. That’s why you have to pursue colleges that match your academic and athletic resume.
The colleges you contact HAVE to be “appropriate” for you to have a shot at a roster spot. They have to be appropriate for who you are as a student and who you are as an athlete.
Appropriate colleges are those schools where you have a good chance to play, fit your academic specifications and meet your personal preferences. Here are some quick thoughts that might help.
The right colleges athletically
Identifying the colleges that make sense athletically is perhaps the most difficult part of the equation. You have to find an objective source to give you an unbiased evaluation, or just ask your coach to be completely honest with you and then you have to accept that evaluation.
You have to know which level colleges make the most sense. There are three divisions within the NCAA and the NAIA is also a viable option. Within each division some college programs are more competitive than others. You need to be open to any of the divisions. Understand that being an athlete in college at any level is an incredible accomplishment.
The right colleges academically
You must be academically eligible to participate in intercollegiate sports per the NCAA and NAIA regulations. Both governing bodies have specific academic standards you have to meet. A good rule of thumb would be if your high school GPA is lower than a 3.0, you better check to be certain that you meet the NCAA and/or the NAIA academic standards.
Second, each college has its’ own academic standards and you have to qualify academically to be admitted into any institution you are considering. Talk with your school counselor and research the admission requirements for each college in which you have serious interest. If your grades or test scores are limiting your options, then do something about it, because if you aren’t eligible, or you don’t meet the admission requirements at a school you are interested in, then you aren’t going to be offered an athletic scholarship, period.
The right college environment
Whether you’re a student-athlete or not, finding the right college environment, in the right area of the country, with an acceptable price tag is critical to having a positive college experience. Decide what is important to you and do some research.
This part of identifying the right schools should be easy. Just ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I want to go to a big school or a small school?
- Do I want to stay close to home?
- What is my college budget?
- Have I decided on a major?
- What other factors are important to me? Tradition? Climate? Area of the country?
Once you’ve decided what is important, simply eliminate the schools that aren’t a fit.