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August 29, 2021

5 Things You Need to Know About the College Recruiting Process

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There are so many moving parts to the college recruiting process that while it may be exciting, it can be daunting as well. Student-athletes find themselves having questions and needing guidance to help the process go as smoothly as possible. The decision to commit to a college team is not one to take lightly, but it should be fun nonetheless! There is no need for stress – we have researched the top 5 questions high school athletes might have as they are being recruited and a former University of Michigan track and field athlete has answered them for you.

Where do I start?

This is the biggest and one of the most daunting questions, but it does depend on the sport. Fear not, there are some things all athletes can do! First, figure out a list of schools you want to contact – the more the better to keep all options open – plus a school may surprise you. Then, start doing your research on the schools, so when you do reach out to the coach, it is as personal to that school as you can make it (that will show your interest, which can set you apart). Next, fill out the online questionnaires and start sending emails and letters to the coaches or recruiting coordinator. Tell them a little more about yourself and your interest in their University, and then wait to see what they say when they get back to you. Don’t freak out if you don’t hear back; coaches are busy. If it’s a top school on your list and you don’t hear anything, keep updating them with your stats, times, academics, etc. 

Related: Duke Athlete Joe Hardison Offers Advice on Recruiting and Dual Sport Athletics

How do I know if I am on a coach’s radar?

You might be on a coach’s radar without even knowing it! That’s the fun part of this process. If you take advantage of your skills, you never know what door can open next for you. Often, coaches will email you back, call you when they are allowed to, set up a time to watch you play or visit your home, or ask for general updates. You usually know when and how interested a coach is in you. And, if a top school choice of yours is not showing much, it doesn’t mean they don’t hear you, so keep updating and keep showing your interest.

Is it better to sign on the early or later signing date?

Don’t worry about when to sign. It is hard to get all the official visits before the November signing date, but if you are confident in your school, then there is no reason to wait. However, do not rush to sign early if you are not confident in where you want to attend. This is a decision that impacts the next four years of your life and will be a big part of your future after college as well. Do not rush the decision.

Related: Why Committing Early in Distance Running is Not Best

How do I narrow down my list of schools I like?

I found that the best way was to make a pro and con list for each school and go from there. You also need to think about factors like a plane ride or drive away? Do they have the major you want? Are they in a competitive conference? Do you see yourself fitting into the team? By answering those to yourself, you’ll get a better gauge on how to narrow down the list. Only you know the best fit for you!

Related: 12 Common Mistakes Made by Athletes During the Recruiting Process

Is there a way to make myself stand out to a coach?

Your skill in your sport has already caught the coach’s attention at this point. I would say it is important to be personable and keep up to date with how the team does so on your next phone call, you can congratulate him/her on a big win or whatever it may be. Just being yourself will be key though because a coach wants to build a strong team culture, and it’s for them to decide if you are a good fit and for you to decide if they are the same for you. 

Good luck and stay positive!