In last week’s post we gave you a high level overview on the how to get the recruiting process started. This week we follow up with how to translate the work we described into actions. An important thing to remember is that you as the student-athlete really drive the recruiting process at the NCAA Division III college level.
We also talked about how students need to figure out: 1) what they want to study, 2) what kind of school they want (big, small, urban, rural, etc.), 3) how far from home they will go, and 4) what is financially affordable. Now it was suggested that you have all this figured out BEFORE you start searching for colleges and visiting campuses and contacting coaches. But does it really happen that way—–in a word NO!
Most student-athletes are not 100% sure what they want to study (some are, most aren’t), what size school they want or how far they want to be from home. Mom and Dad usually will let their student-athlete know what is or is not affordable! So they figure things out as they go through the process.
The key is getting started and if you don’t know how to start here are some suggestions. First, start with something easy— go to the college that is closest to your home and take a tour. Even if you know you don’t want to go to that school, take the tour. After the tour, write down the things that you liked/disliked about it. Too close to home, felt too small/too big, felt like high school, people were friendly, etc., etc.
If you can, set up a meeting with the soccer coach. Again write down the likes/dislikes. You will use these in the future for comparison to other schools and it starts to give you a foundation of things that you want. The important thing is to get that first one done and over with so you will feel more comfortable with future tours and will be better prepared as well.
Second, go to a website like Princeton Review (http://www.princetonreview.com) to help with your search. They have great research tools for finding info on colleges. They even have an Action Plan tool to help with deadlines, SAT/ACT tests, generating a college list and the like. Best of all it is all free! You can also go to US News and World Report for a listing of their college rankings— see http://www.usnews.com/rankings. Again this is going to give you some ideas, flush out some schools to take off your list and maybe introduce you to some you had not thought of before.
Once you have started making your list of colleges, reach out to those coaches. Email them, call them or go visit them in person on campus. Ask them lots of questions about their programs and their schools so that you can learn as much as you can. Talk with other players on the team to get their perspective as well. If you need tips on writing an email to college coaches see “How To Write A Good Email To A College Coach”. And once you are sitting down with a coach, expect to get asked a lot of questions, such as those you see in“Questions to Expect When Meeting College Coaches”.
Talk with your club and high school coaches about what relationships that they have with any college coaches to get good advice on your search. Most coaches are more than happy to help out in this way. Of course, talk to family, friends and other connections along the way to get their feedback and suggestions. Use as much of your network as possible. These will help you further build/narrow your list of schools as you go through the process. Again it may put some on your radar that you had not thought of before and it may knock some off as well.
The bottom line is this— whether a student-athlete knows exactly what he/she wants in a college or not is hard to say. The thing is that it is a process that they all go through to try and find the best fit for themselves. By doing that, you will have a great four years.
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