Laying the groundwork for a successful college recruiting effort is essential and developing operatives that will help you pinpoint important targets along the way is crucial to the momentum you build.
This article offers 5 factors to help integrate your initial college list and provide you with an organized approach as you begin navigating the college recruiting process.
Building a college recruiting information base can begin as early as the ninth grade as a family hobby and increasingly grow into a highly organized, disciplined project moving through the senior year. Develop an awareness of college recruiting procedures by accessing the Guide for the College Bound Student-Athlete (www.ncaa.org). This is a great resource that will give you a clear snapshot of recruiting rules and eligibility.
Self-awareness is a powerful tool and growing an appreciation for what potentially appeals to you in a college experience is a great place to start. Meet as a family and begin to identify “college descriptors” that include level of athleticism, geographic location, population (urban, rural, college town) and size of undergraduate population.
Look carefully at the quality of education different colleges and universities offer. US News and World Report is a great resource that annually ranks college institutions. You want to strive to make “impact” with the college athletic experience, but always remember that the academic piece will last a lifetime.
Maintain individual e-files on your favorite college programs and remain attentive to your academic areas of interest. You may not identify with an exact college major now, but begin to cultivate an academic direction you lean toward.
Take time to investigate college gym team statistics and rankings, along with coach profiles and mission statements in an effort to “match” with college sports programs. Encourage your club coach to offer a fair and realistic athletic skill evaluation. Establish your current point of reference as a prospect and identify clear targets to reach your ultimate college goal.
If you are a blue chip prospect you will probably not have many hurdles to cross in the recruiting process. Conversely, if you are a 2nd tier prospect, you will likely be grouped into a larger and more competitive file of prospects. You will simply need to work harder, prepare better and execute your recruiting effort with more passion if you want to leap ahead of the pack!
Location of a college or university, despite the quality of the academic experience and gymnastics program, plays its part as well. You should determine your comfort level as to how far you are willing to travel from home to enjoy a productive college experience.
Imagine committing to your top college choice that also happens to be on the other side of the country. It may be exciting at first, but unless you have an adaptive nature that can blend easily with new environments, you may experience turbulence or home sickness.
Determine early on in the recruiting process the level of support you can expect when transitioning from high school to college. Trust me, first semester freshman year will likely be your most challenging!
Not only do you want to align with a college because of the academic and athletic opportunities it offers, you want to get a feel for the general social flavor the institution extends.
This is where you reach to your common sense when speaking with coaches, student-athletes and alumni. Ask pertinent questions about their experiences as part of the institution and the community and listen carefully to the replies. Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions that will assist you in determining the general cultural tone of the institution.
Building your initial college list should be intentional and well-researched. Identify clear operatives that are important to your vision of a great student-athlete experience. Grow your college list not just by what you hear, but by what you know and offer sound reasons why you are pursuing a particular institution. This will create confidence, traction and momentum as you begin the beginning phase of a life-changing experience.
Tom Kovic is a former 19 year college coach at The University of Pennsylvania and President of Victory Collegiate Consulting, where he provides individual advisement for families and prospects in navigating the college search.
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