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 service identifies the right colleges for potential recruits to pursue and their recruiting experts provide a recruiting experience that is backed by a money-back guarantee.
It’s New Year’s Day. That means some great college football, time with family and perhaps a New Year’s Resolution or two. For most high school students, it also means that Christmas break is almost over. In a few days you’ll be covered up with homework, studies, practice and all the other tasks high school students deal with during the school year. Given that fact, one of your New Year’s Resolutions should be to develop a game plan to find your college home. If I told you that your recruiting game plan might be as simple as committing 10 minutes a day, would you be up for it?
I’m sure you’re thinking, 10 minutes? Is he kidding? I know 10 minutes isn’t a long time, but you can accomplish more in 10 minutes than you think. You can run a mile (3/4 of a mile for me), wash your car, microwave most frozen dinners, or you can make some progress on finding a college scholarship.
To me, breaking the process down into short 10-minute tasks makes a lot of sense. Here’s a 5-step recruiting game plan you can easily break down into daily 10-minute tasks and it should move you closer to playing at the next level.
Step 1: Make a list of target schools
Creating a list of realistic colleges to pursue is the most important step in any recruiting strategy. There are companies that can help with this process, but if you have an idea of the type and level of college you can play for then you can develop a list of 20 to 30 colleges in less than 20 minutes. If you aren’t sure about which level of college best suits your abilities, ask your coach for some suggestions.
Step 2: Research the colleges on your list
To have a successful recruiting experience, you really need to choose colleges that will be a good fit overall. You need to be comfortable with the atmosphere, the location, the school size, the cost and perhaps most importantly you need to be sure they offer the major you want to study.
It shouldn’t take you long to do a little reconnaissance about the colleges on your list by simply going to each school’s website. First, make sure your grades and test scores are good enough for you to be admitted. Many athletic careers have been stalled by the admissions office. Then, make 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!
Step 3: Review two team rosters a night
Unless you’re a five-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 didn’t need any, would you? Well, if a college has an overabundance of players at your position and no one is graduating, then that school probably shouldn’t be on your list. Basketball teams don’t need five point guards, soccer teams don’t need six goalies and baseball teams don’t need four first basemen.
Nearly every college website in the country has the team roster available and most can be sorted by position and graduation class. In less than five minutes you can review the team roster and the incoming recruiting class 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.
Step 4: Send three emails a day to college coaches
After you finalize your list of colleges to pursue, it’s time to connect with the coaches at those schools. The most efficient way to do that is to email the coaches. I get it: Sending an email to a college coach you don’t know can be intimidating. I realize you don’t want to say the wrong thing or in any way irritate a college coach, but if you’re polite, to-the-point and respectful, you won’t come across as being desperate, a pest, or annoying. Really, if you are a good fit for a program athletically and academically then you are actually doing the coach a favor and they’ll be glad to hear from you.
Your emails need to be personalized to be effective, but they shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to send once you develop your template. Three emails a day will make a world of difference in your recruiting journey.
Step 5: Ask your coach for help
This is probably the easiest and least time-consuming step in your recruiting game plan, but an endorsement from your current coach can go a long way toward landing a college scholarship. Your coach’s opinion about your abilities, work ethic and character will be important to every college coach. Ask your current coach for help, but don’t expect them to find your scholarship for you. That isn’t in their job description.
Keep in mind that your coach’s time is precious. Make it easy for them to help. Take 10 minutes one night and write down a list of your top five college choices along with the contact information of the recruiting coordinators at those schools. Give the list along with your athletic/academic resume to your coach so he or she has all the information they need to have a meaningful discussion with any college coach.
Here’s the deal
We’ve all heard the saying, ‘the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.’ This idea holds true for the college recruiting process. Finding the right college can be an overwhelming process, but if you follow this game plan one step at a time, it’s not that difficult.