By Amy, IvyWise College Admissions Counselor
COVID-19 has changed many components of the college application process and athletic recruitment is no exception. With many high school sports programs on hold, it can be particularly difficult for students to navigate recruitment season.
Although the process may look slightly different than it has in years past, student athletes can set themselves apart by doing their research and staying on top of their to-do lists. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your parents, coaches, and teachers for support and help answering your pressing questions.
At IvyWise, our admissions counselors are experts at every component of the college admissions process, including athletic recruitment. As someone who has worked with students throughout the entirety of the athletic recruitment process, both as a counselor and former admissions officer, I have a step-by-step plan for student athletes who are interested in pursuing the athletic recruitment process.
1. Fill out the athletic prospective questionnaire.
These forms can be found on each individual university’s athletic page for Division I, II & III as well as NAIA colleges and are helpful in order to gain consideration to be a student athlete at that particular institution. Prospective athletes can fill these out as early as the beginning of freshman year of high school.
2. Register to be recruited.
If seeking to be a Division I or II recruit, then you must register with the NCAA Athletic Eligibility Center in order to play and be recruited for a college sport.
3. Ask for help.
Specifically, ask for guidance from a prep club coach for your individual sport. Club coaches can make a phone call or send an email on you behalf to a particular college where they have established a relationship with the coaching staff. If they feel you are a good athletic fit for another program, they certainly can still reach out to programs they are unfamiliar with as well and show support for your athletic talent.
4. Develop your critical team role.
Coaches are not just looking for your athletic talent but the role that you will play on their team. Encourage your coach to also mention your leadership, your attitude at practice, initiative with the teammates during the pandemic or interaction with your teammates on the sidelines or in a competition scenario with others.
5. Create an online profile.
Especially now when you likely cannot be seen in person by coaches, send them a highlight video between 3-5 minutes with clips from several games or practices. Make sure your best clips first in the highlight video. There are also websites where you can set up your own athletic recruitment profiles like, NCSA and BeRecruited. However, one of easiest ways to showcase your talents online is through your own Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, etc. account solely for your athletic recruitment that you can share with coaches. This is also helpful for coaches to follow your athletic career, development, and success.
6. Explore summer showcases.
If possible, attend summer camps or showcases where college coaches will be in attendance. Reach out by email to coaches well ahead of time to let them know of your interest in their program and that you will be attending X showcase on X date.
7. Be proactive and stay organized.
Create a spreadsheet for each school’s program, list the athletic conference, their season record, coaching staff’s names, academic requirements, and dates you sent and received correspondence. Share your highlight video and academic profile with university sports programs directly and ask coaches detailed questions related to your recruitment. For example, inquire if they have the need for your specific position. “I am a setter for volleyball. Do you anticipate that you will be actively seeking to recruit a setter for my class year?” Sometimes coaches only have so many “slots” to advocate for with the admissions office and they may not be looking for certain positions from year to year.
8. Know the communication rules and timelines.
Neither coaches or athletes can initiate phone conversations until June 15th after a recruited athlete’s sophomore year. However, coaches still need to start to develop their recruiting class prior to an athlete’s sophomore year so it is important to communicate with them through other avenues like attending online events, creating an online profile and sending updates for them to review.
9. Understand the testing expectations.
Currently, the SAT/ACT requirement is waived for the NCAA for those entering college for Fall 2021. However, no announcement had been made yet for the 2021-22 admissions cycle, and individual universities may still require it so make sure to check this for each university. As an athlete, while the NCAA may waive the SAT/ACT, the admissions office may still require standardized testing. Additionally, the acceptance of pass/fail grades for core courses has been extended for recruited athletes.
10. Frequently check the NCAA website.
Regularly check the NCAA website for updates on recruitment for your individual sport and changes due to COVID-19. Each sport varies on their guidelines so it is imperative you stay current on changes to their policies.
11. Create two college lists.
Create one list where your sport is part of your college experience and another list that is just based on your academic interest in that university, independent of any athletic experience. You may not end up playing a sport in college or an injury could end your athletic career so it’s important to make two concurrent lists.
Regardless of your specific athletic ambitions, it’s important to do your research and understand the ins-and-outs of the college athletic recruitment process so that you can make the most of it. Our IvyWise counselors have experience working with student athletes with a range of interests and objectives and frequently work with applicants to guide them throughout the recruitment process. If you’re looking for expert college admissions guidance while also exploring athletic recruitment, contact us today.