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. An emerging leader in the competitive world of college recruiting, Playced.com combines technology and application to turn high school athletes into college recruits.
Five minutes isn’t a long time, but you can accomplish more in five minutes than you think. You can boil an egg (I think), unload the dishwasher (if you hurry), take out the trash (if it’s not large trash day), or you can make some progress on finding a college scholarship. Given these choices, I’d pick: make some progress on finding a scholarship.
The college recruiting process can be overwhelming with nearly 2,000 colleges to choose from and many factors to consider. For those reasons, breaking the process down into short tasks makes a lot of sense. Really, to get started, you might have to commit a few hours to determine the right schools to pursue and develop a game plan, but after that you can break down the process into short, easy tasks. Here are five things you can do that should move you closer to playing at the next level.
Send one email a night to a college coach
I get it…sending an email to someone you don’t know is uncomfortable. I also understand that you don’t want to say the wrong thing or irritate a college coach. However, if you are polite, to-the-point and respectful, you won’t look desperate, be a pest, or be annoying. In reality, 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.
Take five minutes, right after dinner three nights a week and send an email to a college coach at a school you are really interested in attending. Make sure you proofread it and make sure you express specific interest in the program, but reaching out to one college coach a night will go a long way toward finding a college scholarship.
Research the colleges you are interested in
Picking a college isn’t a four-year decision; it’s a 40-year decision. You really need to choose the college that is a good fit overall if you want to have the best college experience. You have to be comfortable with the atmosphere, the location, the school size, the cost and, perhaps most importantly, you need to make sure they offer the major you want to study. Contrary to popular belief, not every college offers a degree in chemical engineering, nautical archaeology or biological oceanography.
It shouldn’t take you more than five minutes per school to do a little reconnaissance about the colleges on your list. All you really need to do is find the college website on the internet and 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! The point is, make sure you are going to be happy at the school even if athletics doesn’t work out.
Review the team rosters for the colleges you are considering
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 isn’t a good school to pursue. Basketball teams don’t need six point guards, soccer teams don’t need five 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.
Ask your coach to be involved
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.
Most coaches are willing to help their athletes make it to the next level, but you have to help them help you. They need direction and guidance in reaching out to programs that are a match for your abilities. Be mindful that their time is precious; therefore, arm him or her with an easily executable game plan, and the information colleges will want. Provide the recruiting coordinator’s contact information for your top five 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. Also, be sure your coach agrees that the schools you have targeted are a good fit for your abilities.
Sign up for an SAT or ACT 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 California if you have an ACT score of 17 you have 11 NCAA Division I options. With an ACT score of 22, your number of California options almost doubles to 21. 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.
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. If you break it down into short, simple tasks, it’s not that difficult. Here’s one last 5 minute task: Read our articles every week in USA Today High School Sports!