Collegiate Recruitment: A Beginner’s Guide

In order to find a college that fits an individual’s academic and athletic desires, beginning the recruitment process entails online research, reaching out to coaches, and determining how a school’s athletic and academic value can potentially benefit an athlete’s future. The recruitment process is how college coaches are able to fill roster spots on sports teams to compete at the collegiate level while receiving a funded education. High school and club sports do differentiate in recruitment resources, but there are numerous ways athletes can take charge of their own process with promoting platforms and simple tips to have in one’s toolbox. 

Before starting the recruiting process, athletes must determine the level of play they want to compete at. Division one, two, and three schools all differ in experience and academic endeavors. Identifying the location, major, and what is important for one to have in order to excel in college is one of the most important factors when it comes to looking for and deciding where a student-athlete will spend the next four years of their future. 

Knowing what division or level of play that matches an athlete’s athletic ability is very important, especially when scholarship money is a potential factor in making a committed decision. Division one and two schools fund all official visits and offer scholarship money. Division three schools do not offer any athletic compensation, only academic and merit scholarships. 

The three main college athletic associations: NCAA, NAIA, and the NJCAA | Photo Courtesy of EXACT Sports

There are multiple divisions, leagues, and conferences that make every college different from another. There are also different college associations that differ in how much they spend financially on athletes through scholarship offers. These associations are the National College Athletics Association (NCAA), the National American Intercollegiate Association (NAIA), the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA), and the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA). Within these associations, there are divisions (one, two, and three), and within those divisions are conferences, then leagues, and then individual teams.

Having an open line of communication with parents is very crucial in order to know how the financial factor can affect chances of getting into certain schools. Stable communication with coaches, teachers, and schools of an athlete’s interest is important to keep the process smooth. Setting meetings with a club recruiting coordinator (if one is available/accessible) and making a target list are good first steps toward beginning the recruitment process. 

If an aspiring collegiate athlete does not play club or have a recruiting coordinator available, there are professionals that can be hired to help along the process as well as online workshops that can be accessed.

Making an online profile to promote to college coaches is another very important next step to make sure an athlete is being seen by scouts and coaches. There are numerous platforms that athletes can use to further their exposure. Some platforms used across the U.S. for all sports are HUDL, Fieldlevel, University Athlete, NCAA, NCSA, MVP Cast, and Youtube. These platforms provide the technology to cut unedited films and make great highlight videos to send off to coaches. The majority of these platforms also provide the information to research exactly what a school can offer an athlete. 

The HUDL logo, an online recruiting platform | Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

The largest part of recruiting lies in consistency and patience. Keeping up with emails, making new films to send to coaches, and uploading your online profiles throughout the process are all time-consuming and sometimes tiring, but worth it in the long run.

 Highlight videos are the key to getting coaches to value and stay interested throughout the recruiting process. Updating film weekly or monthly and sending out emails with tournament information or general updates about the club or high school season shows coaches that players are dedicated and stand out from other athletes getting recruited, too. Asking questions in emails sent out about possible camps at the college or potential phone calls is a great way to get a more in-depth conversation going between a player and a coach.

Highlight videos differ on the sport and coach but usually consist of the best plays from competition in games or practice. Putting the most eye-catching plays within the first couple of seconds of the video can be a good tactic to get a coach’s attention. Coaches like to see improvement and overall development in skill over the course of time of sending film.

Head coaches, Assistant coaches, Athletic directors, and coordinators of the school(s) of interest are all good options to reach out to. Finding the coaches’ information and roster information for a particular school can always most likely be found in the athletics portion of the colleges’ website. Filling out the recruiting questionnaires available on colleges’ websites’ are another great way to give an athlete exposure and plant themselves in the school’s recruitment system. 

Keeping all information organized is helpful and can help an athlete keep their options clear. Using a spreadsheet, Google Document, or notebook is a great way to keep a target list of schools in order, along with all other information catering to majors offered, coach contact information, and any specific questions that may arise during the process.

Looking for recruiting tips and workshops online can be a possible and helpful resource to expand knowledge about what coaches look for in a player. Using social media to promote athletes is another way to grow an audience. Uploading clips or reels to a social media platform such as Instagram or Twitter is a great way to get views and attention. The more exposure the athlete provides, the higher the chance of being seen and contacted directly by interested coaches.

Using the resources made accessible at MCHS can only help. Asking coaches for contact information and letters of recommendation to go along with applications is an excellent tool when approaching the application part of the process. Athletic letters of recommendation are a way for college coaches and scouts to have a first-hand account of an athlete and how they are as a player, person, and teammate.

A four-year timeline of MCAA eligibility requirements | Photo Courtesy of NCAA

Meeting with counselors about NCAA eligibility requirements relating to courses is a necessary action to take so the qualifications are met when finalizing a decision to commit.

The MCHS staff works with students to ensure that their needs are met whether it be for courses to meet college requirements, sending transcripts, and mapping out a college target list. 

Being a student-athlete does not have to stop when senior year is over, because achieving playing at the college level is something obtainable. Knowing where to start and the resources available to promote an athlete’s college recruitment process is good knowledge to have to decide whether playing a sport in college suits a student-athletes’s future.

Written by Kamara White

Senior, Kamara White, is the sports section editor for the MC SUN staff. She enjoys food, listening to music, watching Netflix, and sleeping. She plays club volleyball at WAVE and is on Varsity for MC.

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