An athlete’s search for the right college program is an individual and tactical quest that will play out differently across the board. If you happen to be that five-star prospect that every college coach has his eye on, your biggest challenge will likely be which college to choose! But if you are among the majority of prospects who are lumped into the next level of recruits, your college journey will be a little more challenging.
This article offers five simple tips to maintain focus in college recruiting. They will help families realize that the recruiting process is not always a straight run with the prize waiting for you at the end. You will encounter resistance, challenges and frustrating circumstances. The family who can identify potential pitfalls, learn to avoid chatter and remain steady will weather the college search storms with greater success.
1. Control your playing field
It’s a misconception that student-athletes have little control over where they can attend college. With an honest evaluation of their academic and athletic abilities and goals, and a careful analysis of colleges that may meet their needs, prospects can effectively direct the college recruiting process and close in on a college where they can thrive.
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That being the case, the college quest requires tremendous effort, which, at times, can shake your self-confidence and test your personal resolve, especially when times get tough and communication with coaches seems distant at best. The prospect and family who identify clear goals while remaining resolute to executing a well-designed college search plan will navigate the recruiting process with greatest success.
2. Avoid the chatter
We truly live in an information society. On a daily basis, we read or hear about friends, teammates and countless prospects who are claiming solid commitments to various colleges and universities nationwide. Much of what you hear out there is simply “chatter,” and whether it is a verbal offer of an athletic scholarship or support for a prospect in admissions to a select academic institution, all the outside talk can create personal turbulence if you let it.
Do not be distracted by where other prospects and families are positioned in the recruiting process, or what you hear or read about online or in chat rooms. Maintain your course of action and remain dedicated to a systematic timeline and plan of action. The recruiting process is a marathon, not a sprint.
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3. Develop “Thick Skin”
Communication between college coaches and prospects can seem vague, abbreviated and somewhat “code-like,” especially during the early stages of recruiting. Every college coach delivers information differently about where a prospect stands. As the recruiting process builds momentum, so too does the clarity with which coaches deliver messages to prospects. Be prepared. There will be a level of disappointing news. Perhaps the availability of athletic scholarships has exhausted or a coach does not see you as a viable prospect. This is a natural part of recruiting, so do all you can to avoid taking any negative information personally.
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4. Look further out
It’s good to stay focused in the moment and on the task at hand, but it is also helpful to climb up into the crow’s nest and see the bigger picture to the quest.
Think of the college search like a ship on the ocean. The destination is clear, but the voyage is long and filled with potential challenges. Many targets and operatives are immediate and regular. Some are a little farther out and require vision and well-planned strategy. Medium- and long-term planning is helpful for growing strong and successful momentum in the recruiting process, but it also prepares you for potential bumps in the road along the way. It helps to enjoy each positive engagement and connection with college coaches, which helps build that momentum, but it also numbs the sting when you receive negative feedback.
5. Commit to the plan
Diligence and commitment will, in the end, be your defining tools in the college recruiting process. Blue chip prospects will be discovered, recruited and signed. “B” file prospects will need to duke it out with a large number of athletes competing for attention from college coaches. If you are waiting for your inbox to fill or the phone to ring, it could be a long wait.
Remain on the radar screen with regular and proactive communication. Whether its an email to update the coach with your latest YouTube video or a phone call to discuss the program in greater detail, be sure your communication has “grip.” Make it part of a seamless effort to develop a meaningful dialogue and help the coach evaluate you.
The college search for athletes has evolved to new and exciting levels. The competition for athletic scholarship, admission support and even walk-on opportunities is fierce. Embrace this and appreciate the stakes in an effort to realize the importance of careful planning and impeccable execution during every step of your college quest.