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uniforms-multi-sportsSome students envision their future at a college as playing on a college athletic team. Their passion lies in kicking a ball, running a mile, making a basket, and bonding with teammates.

Just like applying to prestigious art schools or music programs, the process for athletes to get recruited is labor intensive and competitive. Student athletes need to be sure that they are willing to put in the effort. While it has similarities to the typical college application process, there are also many added facets that complicate and lengthen the process.

One of the biggest factors in the difficulty of being recruited is which division school students are aiming to play for. Division I and II sports offer scholarships and recruitment is quite competitive. Division III sports don’t offer athletic scholarships or have as extreme recruitment practices. It’s important for students to be realistic about their skill level because that will frame what kind of schools they are looking to play at.

The groundwork for athletic recruitment is laid during junior year of high school. Below are some activities to complete for juniors who are looking to play college sports.

  • Start early – Student athletes need to be visible as much as possible to coaches and recruiters. The earlier an athlete can cultivate exposure and make connections, the better the chance that they will be on a coach’s radar as someone to pursue. Some athletes start reaching out as early as sophomore year of high school.

  • Do research – students should learn as much as they can about the colleges and college teams they are interested in joining. Consider how the school fits a student’s academic goals as well as their athletic goals. Take a look at the sports team and pay close attention to what players make it up, how the student compares to current players and if many upperclassman are leaving, opening up spots for new recruits.

  • Know the rules – There are a lot of rules when it comes to recruiting practices. They can differ by sport and by school. Students should look up the rules for their sport on the NCAA website and college websites to make sure they aren’t engaging in activities that would ruin their eligibility.

  • Maintain strong academics – To be eligible for NCAA sports, students need to meet certain academic requirements. They need to take the right classes and maintain good grades. Students shouldn’t let low grades decrease their desirability as a recruitable athlete.

  • Register with the NCAA Eligibility Center – This officially gives students an amateur athlete status and allows coaches to contact them. Students should register by their junior year. Students who are not registered cannot be recruited.(This only applies to Division I and II schools.)

  • Make a recruiting video – Students should have a clean, well-put-together video highlighting their skills through game/competition and practice footage. This allows interested parties to see how a student plays/competes.

  • Be proactive – There are a lot of student athletes vying for spots on college sports teams. It’s a student’s responsibility to reach out to schools and coaches. Coaches don’t have time to personally investigate each player. Make it easy for them and contact them to show your interest. (Be aware that there are many rules when it comes to how students and coaches are allowed to communicate.)

  • These are just the beginning steps to the recruitment process. Students are required to do a lot of their own legwork when it comes to sending out inquiry letters to coaches, researching colleges and teams, registering with the NCAA and, in general, promoting themselves. By starting early and becoming educated about how recruitment works, student athletes will be more empowered throughout the entire process and thus, more successful in finding the right college and the right college team for them.

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