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.
When you saw the title to this week’s recruiting column you probably thought this article was going to provide the results of some customer satisfaction survey on recruiting websites or “rank” the college recruiting services, but that’s not the case. Using a recruiting service is certainly one of the top 5 resources for recruiting assistance, but there are 4 others you may be completely overlooking, and you should take advantage of them. Look, if college coaches aren’t burning up your cell phone, you need to realize two things: (1) That’s the norm and (2) you may need some help to close the deal.
Here are my top 5 resources for college recruiting assistance, in no particular order. For each resource, I’ve outlined how to maximize each one and why they might be useful. Taking advantage of the resources that make sense for you can go a long way toward finding a college roster spot.
1. Your current coach
Your current coach can be a difference-maker in our recruiting journey. Coaches can have a tremendous impact on an athlete’s search for a scholarship, but let’s get one thing straight; it’s not your coach’s job to find you a college scholarship.
Your current coach is the most reliable person in a college coach’s eyes to vouch for your abilities, character and work-ethic. For that reason, you should pick a trusted coach to use as an advocate and supporter. Your chances to generate positive interest greatly increase when you have a coach in your corner. Most coaches are willing to help, and you should let them. Ask for an honest evaluation of the kind of colleges that make sense for you athletically and if he or she is willing to reach out to a few schools on your behalf, that’s a big help.
2. Your Parents
You may or may not want to hear this, but your parents can be a big help in your recruiting journey. Most parents want to be involved, but I would describe their best role as administrative assistants. That’s right, they work for you. While you really need to take ownership of your college search, you can probably use a little help staying focused and keeping things organized.
Here is a short list of administrative items parents can do to help their student-athlete with the college recruiting process:
- Provide input on college budget
- Help organize the process
- Develop a college recruiting timeline
- Proofread emails and correspondence (not to edit content, just to make suggestions)
- Understand the college recruiting rules
- Keep you focused on realistic colleges
In short, one of the most important things a parent can provide to help their athlete in the recruiting process is to just be available.
In today’s world you can literally get the answer to any question with the click of a button. Want to know how many presidents have been left-handed? Google it. How many calories in a jelly donut? Google it. Want to know the requirements to play your sport at a particular level? Yep, you can Google that too.
The point here is that today’s technology allows you to easily access the who, what, where, when and why of any question or situation. That includes college recruiting. If you can, take the time to learn about how coaches evaluate talent in your sport and research the colleges in which you have the most interest. If you don’t have the time to do the research yourself, there are websites dedicated to help. Either way, technology can help you decide which colleges make the most sense for you.
4. Use a recruiting service
If you search the internet for recruiting assistance, you will come to find almost as many recruiting services/websites as there are colleges offering scholarships. Many promise they will help you find an athletic scholarship because they have access to people and information you don’t. Others promise college scholarships based on relationships, online profiles and/or networks. The question for student-athletes and their parents is “how do I know who to trust?”
Like any industry, there are good recruiting services and there are ones just looking for your credit card number. If you decide to use a recruiting service, be smart. Read the reviews, understand exactly what you’re paying for and how much the “all in” cost is for their service. Recruiting services can be helpful if you don’t want to do yourself or don’t know how to it yourself, as long as you do your homework.
I am a firm believer that you are your best recruiting resource. There is no one better to pick your college home than you. Don’t expect your parents to take care of it for you, don’t ask your coach to find your college and you don’t have to use a recruiting service. In a college coach’s eyes, if you aren’t involved in your recruiting process, you might appear lazy, entitled and/or disinterested. Wouldn’t you rather be involved and be considered assertive, confident and/or motivated?
Think about it this way, at some point you’ll have to talk to the coaching staff at the colleges who are interested in you. It will make a much better impression if you took the initiative to make first contact. Take the time to fill out the recruiting questionnaires on college websites. Research the programs you are most interested in. Then be creative and strategic when you reach out to the coaches.
The college recruiting process is about introducing yourself to the right coaches and developing a dialogue with them so you can pursue your goal. The best person to handle those responsibilities is you.
Here’s the deal
If you really want to play at the next level, then leave no stone unturned. Use every recruiting resource you can to make your dream a reality.