5 Things Recruits Should Do for Planning Unofficial College Visits

  1. When should I take a college visit?  You should start to organize unofficial visits beginning in your junior year of high school.  Ideally, visits should be scheduled during a time of year when the team is training so you have the opportunity to watch a training session or game.  April 2018 saw new legislation with regards to unofficial visits.  unofficial visit with athletics department involvement (e.g., contact with athletics department staff, athletics-specific tour, complimentary admission) shall not occur with an individual (or his or her relatives or legal guardians) before September 1 at the beginning of his or her junior year in high school.
            
  2. Should I contact the coach prior to my visit?  Contact the coach ahead of time. One of the main reasons for a college visit should be to interact with the coaching staff and gain exposure.  Otherwise the campus visit is worthless in regards making connections with the coaching staff. 
     
  3. How and when should I contact coach regarding a visit?  Consider reaching out to the staff with a hand written note several weeks or more in advance.  A handwritten note may be helpful in capturing the attention of coaches who are often overwhelmed by email correspondence.  Coaches often do not have the time to respond to every email and that means you can get lost in the shuffle.  After sending a handwritten note, you can call the office to introduce yourself and then follow it up with an email organizing a time to meet on campus. Your email should include a player resume and link to a highlight video if available.  (See our Freebies page for a template resume).
     
  4. What can I expect to happen on a visit (unofficial/official)?  The nature of unofficial visits depends mainly on whether the visit is organized by the coach (in the event they are actively recruiting you) or the prospect who is initiating contact.

    If a coach is organizing the visit the following may take place:  campus tour led by coaching staff, overnight accommodations in a dormitory of a current student athlete, visit to college class with current student athletes, opportunity to watch a training session, meeting with academic support and/or academic departments of interest, and discussions with the coaching staff on financial aid, academic fit, acceptance standards and your potential role on the team. 

    If the prospective student athlete is initiating the contact, the following may take place: campus tour through admissions office and meeting with coaching staff to discuss the program (if pre-organized or the staff happens to be available).  If the team is training on the day of your visit, you may be able to attend a training session if you have asked permission of the coaching staff beforehand.  If you do have the opportunity to meet the opportunity to meet with the coaching staff, ask questions about the recruiting needs of the program (number of players being recruited to your class and recruited positions.  You also want to use this opportunity to discuss whether the coaches have watched you play (at a tournament or by viewing your highlight video) and see if you can coordinate a future event where the coach may be able to watch you play. 
     
  5. How can I maximize my visit?   Make sure to plan in advance.  Visit the school’s website and pre-book a campus tour.  Coordinate a time to meet the coaching staff beforehand and hand deliver your player resume and highlight video if they don’t already have hard copies.  If possible and with the permission of a coaching staff, watch a training session while you are on campus. 
     

WARNING:  Remember that the coaching staff is evaluating you while you are on campus.  They are interested in learning about your demeanor and interest in their school.  They are also looking to see how you interact with your parents and whether you appear respectful and are enjoyable to be around. 

How to Promote your Recruitment at Tournaments

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If you are planning to compete in soccer tournaments this spring, make sure you prepare appropriately to maximize your recruiting exposure at the event.  In order to capture the attention of college coaches recruiting at these events, we recommend the following:

  1. Research online the colleges that are going to be represented at the tournament(s).  If you are considering a school, visit their soccer program webpage and find contact information for the coaches.
  2. Reach out to college coaches 3 weeks prior to the tournament when possible.  Visit our Freebies page for free pre-tournament letter and pre- and post-tournament email templates.  Do not send mass emails or copy multiple programs in the same email.
  3. One week prior to the tournament, email the coach with your games times and fields and confirm you jersey number and position and that you will in fact be playing.

Remember that the best way to start the recruiting process is to simply initiate contact. Tell the coach "I am interested in your program. Please evaluate me". Remember college coaches have a limited amount of time to spend evaluating talent.  Players predisposed to attend a given school can make a coach's life easier. Coaches will be more likely to watch you play if they know you are seriously interested in their program.

You may also like:
Hydration: Why is it important for your performance?
Three Key Soccer Mentalities:  What coaches want?
Tactical Awareness

 

How to contact college soccer coaches- A Student-Athlete perspective

College coaches recruiting at sideline at college soccer camp in Newton, MA

Taking the initiative and reaching out to a college coach for the first time can be a daunting task. One of the first things to keep in mind is that while college coaches are very busy, there is a good chance that they will see your efforts to get in touch.

College coaches always have potential student-athletes trying to get in touch with them, so it is important to be persistent in displaying your interest. Obviously, there is a fine line between persistent and annoying, but coaches are human beings just like you and appreciate the effort. As a student-athlete, you’ll stand out with a few emails and maybe a phone call or two. Most coaches have their emails and even their phone numbers on school websites. Unless you’re the next up and coming superstar, you’re going to have to do more than sending one email or leaving one voice message displaying your interest. When reaching out, it is always better to be thorough as well. Address the email or phone call the specific coach at each school of interest. Simply writing/saying “Dear Coach,” doesn’t signify how interested you are because you could be talking to any coach. In addition to specifically addressing the coach you’re speaking to, make sure to have your, club, jersey number, upcoming games/tournament times, and contact information in every email so that Coach can keep in touch with you.

Another way to demonstrate your interest is to reach out to admissions. Having the grades and enough extracurriculars is also important when looking at schools. If your GPA is too low, admissions will be your be your biggest obstacle. Admissions contact information is also simple to find on any schools information. Researching the necessary GPA and standardized test scores to be admitted can help keep you on track academically. Coaches will always be more inclined to recruit athletes that meet the academic standards of their schools as well.

You may also be interested in:
A Parents Guide to Communicating with College Coaches
Top 10 Questions to Ask a College Coach
Student-Athletes:  What College Program is Right for You?

Understanding Financial Aid Packages

It is important for students and their parents to understand how financial aid works for student-athletes.  Each NCAA Division level is governed by its own set of rules.  During the recruiting process, college coaches may ask for CSS Profiles/FAFSA before offering athletic scholarships.  Below is a brief summary of the main differences and a link to more detailed information from the NCAA. 

Athletic Scholarships:  Athletic scholarships are awarded by institution based on the merit of the performance of the individual.  All Division I and II soccer programs are classified as "equivalency" sports, meaning that the NCAA restricts the total financial aid that a school can offer in a given sport to the equivalent of a set number of full scholarships.   

Division I:  Soccer teams can separate the scholarship awards between the roster up and till a maximum of 9.9 for the men and 14.0 for the women.  Coaches are allowed to award anywhere from 1%-100% for any individual student-athlete.  

Division II:  Soccer teams can separate the scholarship awards between the roster up and till a maximum of 9.0 for the men and 9.9 for the women.  Coaches are allowed to award anywhere from 1%-100% for any individual student-athlete.   

Division III:  The NCAA limits Division III teams to no athletic scholarships.  If you qualify for merit or need-based aid, you can qualify for financial aid.  The NCAA also require Div. III schools to show how much aid they give to athletes on sports teams. 

Need-Based Aid
Student need-based aid is related to the need of the family after completing either the CSS Profile and/or FAFSA forms.   Need-based aid is awarded on the student/family financial need.  When financial aid is determined through need-based aid, an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is determined.  Universities will work towards maximizing this aid gap.  It has often been noted that filling this financial gap, is maximized when the student has higher SAT or ACT scores.

Merit-Based Aid
Merit-based scholarships and grants are awards from educational institutions and organizations.  This aid usually comes from outstanding academic achievements in high schools grades and/or outstanding SAT or ACT scores.  Sometimes merit-based aid is awarded to students by such organizations as local club, Boy Scouts, YMCA etc.  Merit-based grants do not need to be repaid.  Athletic based scholarships are also a form of merit-based aid.

How are athletic scholarships combined with need-based and merit-based aid?  
It is possible at Division I and II schools to combine merit-based aid with athletic scholarships up to the need-based financial aid eligibility limit.  There are some limitations with combining need-based aid with athletic scholarships. 

For more information, visit NCAA's Scholarship page.