USA TODAY High School Sports has a weekly column on the college recruiting process. Here, you’ll find practical tips and real-world advice on becoming a better recruit to maximize your opportunities to play at the college level. Jason Smith is a former NCAA DIII athlete and college coach at all three division levels. Jason is just one of many former college and professional players, college coaches, and parents who are part of the Next College Student Athlete team. Their knowledge, experience, and dedication, along with NCSA’s history of digital innovation and long-standing relationship with the college coaching community, have made NCSA the largest and most successful athletic recruiting network in the country.
Filling out a recruiting questionnaire, let’s face it, is not the most exciting part of the recruiting process. It doesn’t compare with getting interest from the coach at your target school, visiting a campus, or signing your letter of intent. But the recruiting questionnaire is an important first step in the college recruiting process and should not be discounted or treated lightly.
Questionnaires get you on the radar
How important? Renee Barrows, an NCSA colleague, and former head softball coach at Keystone College (not to mention a distinguished college player in her own right), tells me that coaches have shared with her, “If you haven’t filled out our questionnaire, you’re not on our radar.”
What information will you be you expected to share? It varies somewhat by sport, but generally, you will be asked to provide:
- Personal and family/guardian information
- A connection—if any—to the institution
- Measurables such as height and weight
- GPA and SAT/ACT scores
- A link to a video/online profile
- NCAA ID number/Eligibility Center certification (Division 1 or Division 2)
- Sports played in high school or prep school
- Senior and career statistics (Team captain? Championship teams? Honors?)
- Links to your social media
Insider Tip: It only takes one tweet or one video to undo years of your hard work and derail your college plans. Be sure there is no unsuitable content on your social media accounts. For example: no profanity or slurs; no photos in which alcohol is seen; no tasteless jokes, no inappropriate dress. The internet is full of teachable moments about recruits who have had their scholarship offers pulled by a coach for content deemed unworthy of their institution.
Keep updating your questionnaires
When a questionnaire is completed, that information is put into the coach’s database, which is then used to rate student-athletes, organize students they will evaluate at upcoming events, track top recruits, communicate upcoming camp information, and much more. “Without that questionnaire, they’re not putting you on those lists,” Barrows cautions.
But just because you have filled out the questionnaire, doesn’t mean you are done with the questionnaire. You need to be diligent to make sure your questionnaire continues to work for you—rather than against you—throughout the process.
For example, if you fill out the questionnaire your freshman year (the earlier the better, I recommend), your academic and athletic stats will change. Has your GPA shot up? Did you make all-conference? It’s good to update anytime there is new information that you’re proud of and consider to be worth sharing.
Another instance to revisit your questionnaire is if there has been a coaching change at your target school. Part of the coach’s role is managing the recruiting database, and a new hire may want to change the form or even start fresh. It’s good to reconnect with the institution and let the coach know of your interest in the program and direct them to your questionnaire, or perhaps fill it out again.
Don’t ignore or delay filling them out
The benefits of filling out a recruiting questionnaire far outweigh any hassles of having to fill one out. If, say, a coach is attending a showcase, the sponsor will send the coach a list of attendees from which the coach can check against their database to see who they can get their eyes on. If the coach likes what he or she sees and can access your questionnaire, you’re a step ahead.
On the flip side of that, if you don’t take the 10-15 minutes to complete the questionnaire, you put yourself steps behind, especially if a coach reaches out to you as a recruit of interest and invites you to complete the questionnaire. Putting it off or not doing it at all sends a signal that you are not interested in the program or that your work ethic is lacking.
Insider Tip: Recruit Spot is a time-saving platform created by Front Rush that allows you to enter all of the info needed in recruiting questionnaires. It then fills out any of the more than 8,000 questionnaires integrated with Recruit Spot with a single click. As you go through the process, you can access and update your questionnaire at any time.