College Planning for Student Athletes

Prospective College Athletes:

  • You are academically sound, athletically gifted and socially well adjusted, and you're thinking about playing a sport in college. What do you do? This advice applies to any athlete (male or female) in any sport.
  • Speak with your High School coach and get a feel for the division level (I, II, or III) which your talents match comfortably.
  • All students interested in playing Division I, II, or III sports in college must submit the NCAA Eligibility Center application at the end of the junior year in high school. Student-athletes planning to attend an NAIA school must also complete an eligibility application through the NAIA Eligibility Center.
  • Start your college search early. During or after your sophomore year, you may want to make informal visits to some colleges. Making these informal visits give you a foundation of knowledge that will help you make better decisions during the recruitment process.
  • Build a flexible list before colleges show interest in you. The list should include schools you would attend even if you could not play a sport (what if you are injured and can't play?).
  • Do not wait for a phone call or letter from a coach. At the end of junior year, plan to visit several of your top colleges. Also, send the college coaches a cover letter and athletic resume. The resume should include contact information for not only your varsity coach, but also your club coach, unofficial transcript, team schedule, and school profile. A sample of an athletic resume is in the college counseling handbook.
  • Write your own personal letter and athletic resume to the coach(es) of the sport(s) in which you are interested. Also, complete the available athlete questionnaires on the school's athletic website.
  • Initiate a campus visit. Call ahead to set an appointment with the coach and/or admission office. Plan to spend the night on campus if possible. Take in a practice and be sure to check out the playing facilities as well as spend time with current student-athletes.
  • Send a thank you note to the coaching staff after visiting a school. There are several coaches who spent time and resources to host you. You want to let them know how much you appreciate what they did for you. It also reminds them of who you are!
  • Send a demo video of your playing ability when appropriate to do so.
  • Send a full game video of your playing abilities, as opposed to a highlight film.
  • Participate in summer sports skill camps in your area whenever possible. Several college coaches from all levels attend the camps and will scout you.
  • Attend a sports camp at the college(s) where you have a strong desire to attend and play.
  • Work in partnership with your LMP coach, your club coach, and your college counselor. Keep all parties informed about the feedback you are getting from schools. Remember, the only office with the authority to admit you are in the admissions office.
  • When you have found the school that meets your needs and expectations, be sure to give it full consideration. No matter whether the school is in NCAA Division I, II, III, or NAIA--scholarship or non-scholarship--there is no substitute for the complete college experience. Make sure all the elements fit your needs, athletic and academic.
  • You should be wary of recruiting and scholarship companies that charge you for their services. Often times the services that they offer are procedures that you can really organize yourself.

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