Movies about athletic recruitment tend to follow a trope…boy runs the length of the field to score the winning touchdown–gets recruited to play in college. Girl slides into home in the 9th inning–gets recruited to play in college. While this may be a comforting and familiar cinematic experience, the drama of the moment bears little resemblance to actual college recruiting.
Here’s what we actually know about earning a spot on a college roster.
As we mentioned in our last blog, it’s important to begin the career exploration process early in high school. Our Class ’23 and Class ’24 student-athletes are doing the hard work to identify a major and a viable career path. Once they’re finished, it’s easy to begin the next step…
Get in touch with coaches…first!
It’s a rare student-athlete who has coaches standing around waiting to talk to them. Student-athletes (not parents) can and should reach out to coaches at schools they might like to attend. Most coaches prefer a brief email for the initial contact. Send an email with your qualifications, including your academic achievements. At IN College Planning, we suggest that students put together an athletic resume with a link to film, and share it widely. We also recommend mentioning to the coach the things you find appealing about seeking a degree in x (whatever the major may be) at this particular institution. This tells the coach that you’ve begun to do your homework; you value College University, not just because it has a winning lacrosse program, but also because the school offers a top-notch degree in criminology.
Reserve a professional-sounding email address solely for athletic recruiting, and check it regularly. For juniors, I suggest checking twice a day, so that you can follow up within 24 hours of any response you may receive. Be sure to respond to all email messages, even from schools you aren’t interested in attending. There’s no need to create a long relationship with the coach who reaches out, but at the very least, follow up to say that you are not particularly interested in playing for this school and give a reason (don’t have my major, job placement rate too low, can’t afford it, etc). This makes the coach’s job easier too.
Grades are important too
The era of the ‘dumb jock’ is over. Colleges look forward to recruiting students who are as smart as they are athletic. Keep your grades up and be sure to remain eligible by signing on with the NCAA Eligibility Center. Your academic record should tell the coach that you are a hard worker who seeks a challenge. While your athletic prowess alone might be enough to earn a spot on a team, sharing a great GPA tells the coaching staff that you have what it takes to persevere as you learn to juggle high-powered athletics with the rigor of college work.
It can be hard to stay upbeat if you’ve emailed 25 coaches and haven’t received a single reply, but stay focused, and be sure to send a brief update if you’ve done something notable since you originally got in touch. Always attach the latest version of your athletic resume, but also highlight your news in the opening paragraph of the email as well and in the subject line. Won state championship, Brian Jingles tells the coach more than ‘hi’.
Fewer than 10% of high school athletes will play in college. If you have what it takes to play in your division, don’t wait to share the news–seek coaches and tell them!
Check out what the NCAA has to say about recruitment.
Have a question, or ready to begin work with us? Reach out here. We’re happy to do what it takes to help your football fullback, field hockey player, or fencer find their spot on a college roster.