Many student-athletes know they want to participate in athletics in college but are unsure where to start. The biggest advice I can give right off the bat is to keep your options open. Remember, it’s all about playing the numbers game:
The more colleges you reach out to = The more relationships you’ll build with college coaches = The more opportunities you could receive = More offers might be extended to you and ultimately = The more leverage you’ll have to negotiate scholarship money.
Finding the right college is important, not just so you pick the right team, but so you enjoy your college life and receive a good education. Also, don’t forget picking a college is not just about four years of your life; it’s a decision that will affect the next forty years!
To find the right fit, start by asking yourself some of the easier questions, such as if you want to try to stay local or are open to playing anywhere in the country. The more open you are to travel, the better your chances will be of finding a college who will want to recruit you and that fits all of your needs and wants.
Do you know what you want to major in yet? If not, that’s ok. But if so, then make sure the colleges who are recruiting you offer your major. Your education should take priority over athletics, so if a school is recruiting you and they don’t offer your major, then you should research your other options.
What size school would you prefer? Do you want a large school or are smaller class sizes more appealing to you? Do you know what division level you want to play for, but more importantly, that you would be qualified to play at?
First, think about NCAA versus NAIA. Some NAIA schools are very competitive and could compete with NCAA schools, so remember that when you’re weighing your options. NAIA schools also have a tendency to be less-restrictive and generally less-expensive.
As for NCAA, decide what division level you could realistically be eligible to play for, and not just which level you want to play for. This is the most important tip I can give you when going through the recruiting process and reaching out to colleges. If your dream is to play DI and you’re only reaching out to DI coaches, then you’re missing out on a lot of opportunities. Only a small percentage of student-athletes are top level athletes who will qualify for DI athletics. If you’re not hearing back from top DI schools, then it’s time to face the facts. You might not be eligible to play at that level.
Now it might be really disappointing to find out that you’re not a top recruit and won’t be playing with the Andrew Lucks and RG3s of the college world, but at least now you can be honest with yourself and realize that you should be reaching out to college coaches at the level at which you will be a top recruit on those coaches’ lists. Try researching schools on the Division II and III levels and see if you get more responses from those coaches. If so, then at least you found a place where your athletic ability will be a match with your teammates and your competitors. If not, then you might be going about your recruiting process all wrong and I suggest you receive some additional help.
Call NCSA at 866-577-6272 if you wanted to get started on the recruiting process!
Many athletes think DIII athletic programs are not very competitive, but that is a myth! Some high level DIII programs are more competitive that low-level DI programs. So, keep your options open…and not just when thinking about division level, but when thinking about size and location of a school as well. Remember, the more opportunities you have, the more offers you might get, which means more leverage to negotiate scholarship money. So, play the numbers game, and good luck!