by Katie Charles
You’re a strong athlete at the high school level...maybe you even participate on a club team or in a development league. Now, you think you may want to continue playing at the next level.
The recruiting process can seem daunting, given the nearly 2000 schools offering athletics at the college level, the 300+ page recruiting manual issued by the NCAA, and the seemingly never-ending list of violations in the news cycle. How do you choose the right program, and how do you do it well?
There are a few things to consider when starting this process:
- Why do you want to play in college? The glamorous side of athletics involves the games, representing your school, and playing in front of fans. The less-glamorous side includes the early morning weight-lifting sessions, long practices, and crazy travel schedules. Playing at the college level requires dedication and strong time management skills, which will serve you well in the future. Entering the process with eyes wide open to the pros and cons is critical to deciding which program is right for you.
- You need to enter the recruiting process with the intent to complete all of your eligibility. Coaches have the ability to help (to varying degrees) with the admissions process. You can leverage your athletic ability to get into a school that might otherwise be a reach academically or guarantee admission at a highly selective institution. Therefore, coaches need to be able to count on an athlete contributing to their program for four years. Some athletes go through the process for the admissions bump and then quit, which throws off the college team’s recruiting plans and impacts team chemistry, but it can also affect future prospects from the athlete’s high school or club team, as a coach may be less likely to recruit from that program after a negative experience.
- You must consider the level of program you want to play at, the impact you are hoping to have on that program, and the type of college experience you want outside of your sport. The higher the level at which you play, the more time you will dedicate to athletically-related activities. Think about what other experiences you want to have in college: study abroad, internships, Greek life, etc, and then consider which level of play allows you to have the college experience you are hoping for.
Playing sports at the college level is highly rewarding and a great way to continue to compete while honing valuable life skills. If you go into the process with thoughtfulness and consideration, you can find the right school to continue your career.