It’s that time of year….to start preparing for The Official Visit. What is an “Official Visit”? Per the NCAA rules “An official visit to a member institution by a prospective student-athlete is a visit financed in whole or in part by the member institution (see Bylaw 13.6).” Basically, the school is paying for you to come and stay with them for a visit. (Also see our previous post “Visiting Campus” from earlier this year.)
The “member institution” can transport you, feed you, house you, entertain you ($20 per day worth) and take to athletic contests at the institution’s expense. You are allowed only ONE of these per institution, they cannot exceed 48 hours, and you can only start taking these visits after the first day of classes in your senior year. You can visit as many D3 schools as you like as there are no restrictions in that regard. The nice thing is that the institution pays for everything and the only thing that you need money for is buying a hoodie at the campus bookstore. (Some schools will pay to have a recruit flown in and buy their airline ticket if they want that recruit badly enough.)
You have signed up for an official visit— now what? Again this is a GREAT opportunity. This is an opportunity for you as a player/student-athlete/person to get to know the school better, get to know the team better and get to know the coach better. Use this opportunity wisely!
First the coach- all coaches are recruiters and all recruiters are sales people; we have to sell our schools, sell our teams, sell our selves to our recruits in order for you to get you to come to our colleges and universities. Especially at the D3 level where we can’t entice you with athletic scholarship money. As we stress in the blog week to week, we try to have open and honest communications between recruits and coaches. When you are on your official visit you can ask the players what the coaching staff is really like. Is the head coach nice as a recruiter but then turn into an ogre once you are part of the team?
What about the players? Each college, especially at the D3 level, has a different feel to it and part of that “feel” is created by the students on campus. Do you as recruit feel comfortable with the other students on campus. Now you may not feel 100% comfortable with a group of strangers that you have probably just met, however, do you get a feeling like you could be a part of this group? Do you feel included? Or do you immediately feel like you are outside of the clique and won’t be able to make your way in?
Lastly, what is the school like after things wind down for the day. Most coaches want to bring you on campus when there is a lot going on and campus life looks exciting. But what happens when the game is over or the concert is over or the team event is over? Does everyone just go back to their dorms and disappear? Or is there a vibrant, active life on the campus even after the normal day time events are finished. The only real way to experience this is to be on campus to see what it’s like.
When you take an official visit, and we highly suggest that you do more than one, learn about the coaches, the team, and the school. And come with an open mind; you may walk away from a visit and think that is not the place for me. Or you may decide that the school is exactly what you want. Either way you have had a valuable experience and gained important insight.
The bottom line is this— as always, ask lots of questions! Come prepared with questions. Take the time to sit down and think about what questions you want answered and what information you want to learn from your official visit to help you make a final decision. Learn as much as you can while you are there. Take the time to think to yourself- can I see myself at this school for the next four years?
Questions? Comments? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah to all!