If you’re a high school tennis player, senior year is the time to evaluate your college choices and decide which is best. You should not make a final decision until you’ve visited the schools you’re interested in.
The NCAA recognizes two types of college visits, official and unofficial, and there are are some pretty strict rules about both, which you need to be aware of—or risk disqualifying yourself from playing in college. Here’s a brief look at the key points of difference.
If a college tennis coach invites you on an official visit, it is a very good indicator that he or she is considering offering you a scholarship. The school pays for your transportation, sets you up to stay in a dorm (probably with a player from the team) and assigns someone to take you around campus.
An official visit may include tickets to a football game or a concert on campus. All expenses paid by the school for an official visit must be “reasonable.”
You are allowed five official visits to NCAA Division I or II schools, but you cannot visit a school more than once. If you are looking at NCAA Division III, NAIA or junior colleges, the number of schools you can visit is unlimited, but official visits are rarely offered.
You (or your parents) foot the bill for unofficial visits. You may decide to take a family road trip to visit a few colleges, or schedule a visit if you plan to be in the area of a school that interests you. During an unofficial visit, you can arrange to meet with academic counselors, coaches and financial aid counselors.
You may take as many unofficial visits to as many schools as you wish. A school may provide you with tickets to a home sporting event, but not transportation, food or housing. Unofficial visits are opportunities for you to check out schools and programs, but most of them lack a recruiting component.