USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the recruiting process. This isn’t about where just the top five-star athletes are headed but rather a guide to the process and the pitfalls for student-athletes nationwide from Fred Bastie, the owner and founder of Playced.com. Playced.com is an industry leader in college recruiting. Their technology-based recruiting software identifies the right colleges for potential recruits to pursue and their recruiting advisers provide a recruiting experience that is trusted by college coaches and backed by a money-back guarantee.
Ten minutes. 600 seconds. That doesn’t sound like much time, but you can do a lot in 10 minutes. You can run a mile (if you’re in good shape), you can unload the dishwasher (if there’s not a lot of silverware) and I can finish any meal (with a few minutes to spare). The point is, you can accomplish a lot in 10 minutes, if you put your mind to it. That’s also true in the college recruiting process. A focused 10 minutes per day, 3 days a week will go a long way toward finding your college scholarship. Also, breaking the recruiting process into short, manageable tasks will make it much easier to swallow. Here are 10 tasks, that should take you 10 minutes, but will certainly help you make some headway in finding the right college.
1. Talk with your coach about which colleges to target
The first step in any effective recruiting strategy is to determine the level of schools you should pursue. Not every athlete can compete at the Division I level, but there are many opportunities at the NCAA Division II, III or the NAIA levels. The one person who is best equipped to help you decide which level of college to pursue is your current coach. Ask him or her for some honest feedback about the level of schools that make the most sense for your athletic abilities and take their advice to heart.
2. Create a list of colleges you would really like to attend
Once you understand the level of colleges that make sense for you, take 10 minutes and make a list of schools you are truly interested in. Start with the colleges you are familiar with and then identify other schools that match your abilities and meet your personal preferences (location, size, reputation, etc.).
3. Research the colleges you’ve identified
In addition to becoming a college athlete, you are about to become a college student. Make sure each school on your list makes sense for you in all regards. Be sure the cost is in line with your family budget, particularly if you play an equivalency sport. After that, check out what is important to you personally. You’d be amazed the kind of information that is available online. You can check on things like average class size, parking availability and even boy-girl ratio! The point is, make sure you are going to be happy at the school even if athletics doesn’t work out.
4. Review the team rosters for the colleges you’ve targeted
Unless you’re a 5-star athlete, you have to approach the recruiting process like a job search. You wouldn’t apply for a job as a dog-catcher if the city already had enough dog-catchers, would you? Well, if a college has an overabundance of players at your position and no one is graduating, then that school probably isn’t a good school to pursue.
Nearly every college website in the country has the team roster available for every athletic program and most can be sorted by position and graduation class. In 10 minutes you can review the team roster and the incoming recruiting class of 3 or 4 programs to get a pretty good idea if they might have a spot for you. With a little work, you should be able to target schools that actually need a player like you.
5. Fill out the recruiting questionnaires on college websites
The fastest way to get on a coach’s radar is to take 10 minutes and fill out the recruiting questionnaire on their college website. Additionally, you can learn a little about how you will be evaluated by each coach if you pay attention to the information they are requesting. The information you will be expected to provide varies, but generally, you will be asked to provide the following:
- Personal and family information
- A connection (if any) to the institution
- Measurables such as height, weight, speed, strength
- GPA and standardized test scores
- A link to a video/online profile
- Sports played in high school
- Athletic honors/ statistics (All-District? All state? Team Captain?)
- Links to your social media accounts
- NCAA ID number
6. Send an introductory email to the coaches at each school
Emails are a great way to introduce yourself to a coach and start a dialogue. Most coaches actually look through their emails on a daily basis. When a player expresses a sincere interest in a program and their abilities are a fit, an introductory email can spark interest from most college coaches. There is no instruction manual on how to write the perfect email, but the more personal the email, the better your chances are for a reply.
Sending a “canned” email just doesn’t show you really have a sincere interest in a program and those emails are usually deleted almost immediately. If you put your mind to it, 10 minutes is more than enough time to write two or three emails to college coaches. Do this 5 times and you’ve introduced yourself to 15 college coaches.
7. Talk to your parents about the family college budget
The projected average “all-in” cost of college for the 2017–2018 school year is more than $25,000 for state residents at public colleges, over $35,000 for out-of-state residents attending public universities, and can be over $50,000 for private universities.
Given these numbers, and since most athletic scholarships aren’t full scholarships, your family budget can be an extremely important factor in deciding which schools are a match for your situation. For this reason, you really need to take 10 minutes and have a realistic, practical conversation with your parents about the family college budget. Some colleges might not be a possibility from a financial perspective even if you get an athletic scholarship.
8. Ask your coach to be involved
Most coaches are willing to help their athletes make it to the next level, but you have to ask! Schedule a short meeting with your coach (10 minutes) and ask if they are willing to help. If they are, they need direction and guidance in reaching out to programs you have targeted. Make it as easy as possible for them. Provide the recruiting coordinator’s contact information for your top 3 to 5 college choices along with your athletic and academic resumes so your coach has all the information he or she needs when making the first contact.
9. Sign up for an ACT and/or SAT review course
Unless you already have a stellar standardized test score then signing up for a review course makes a lot of sense. And it might be the best decision you ever make to further your athletic and academic careers.
It’s only logical that the more schools you qualify for academically, the more options you will have athletically. For example, in the state of Texas, if you have an ACT score of 17, you have 14 realistic NCAA Division I options. With an ACT score of 22, your number of Texas options increases to 20. The same holds true in every state and at all levels. An ACT or SAT review course might not be how you want to spend your Saturday mornings, but it’s a small sacrifice in the grand scheme of things.
10. Identify and sign up for a few strategic college camps or showcase
In 10 minutes you should be able to identify a showcase or two that makes sense for your abilities and goals. Be strategic with your selections and factor in which coaches are attending, playing opportunities and number of participants. Attending a showcase or college camp where no colleges you are interested in are represented makes no sense at all unless you are just going for the experience.
Once you’ve signed up for a few camps, reach out to the coaches attending and express your interest in their program. Tell them you will be at the camp or tournament and if possible give them your schedule.
Here’s the deal
If you break your college recruiting process up into 10-minute tasks it will be much easier to make some progress on finding all your scholarship opportunities. Make the commitment today to spend 10 minutes per day, 3 days a week looking for that right college fit.