Don’t forget to prepare a list of questions to make the most of your time. You may want to ask about their daily routine, recruiting experience, free time, offseason and classes.
When you talk to some student-athletes, it sounds like they already have the next five years locked in and nailed down. They know exactly what they want to major in, the universities they’re interested in and how they’ll get there.
Then there’s the rest of us — we’re not even sure what’s happening this weekend, let alone years from now.
And that’s OK. You’re not supposed to have all the answers in high school, especially when it comes to your recruiting. If you’re on the fence about whether you want to play college sports, you’re not alone. It’s a huge commitment that will shape your entire college experience.
So, to help you decide if being a college-athlete is the right choice for you, here are some helpful tips.
VISIT LOCAL COLLEGES, CHECK OUT THE LEVEL OF COMPETITION
Map out a weekend to visit a local college and watch a game or event. You may even consider checking out a few different divisions. It’s a simple and easy way to gauge the level of talent you’ll need to compete as a college athlete.
What kind size and skill sets do the athletes possess? Are there athletes on the team you’ve competed with or against? Can you match their size and speed? Seeing the action in person may help you better picture yourself in their shoes (or cleats).
Plus, you can use this as an opportunity to look around campus. Note characteristics you like about the school, such as classroom size and dorm life, and what you don’t like, too. Your observations will help you create a better, more informed target list of schools.
RESEARCH COLLEGE ROSTERS
If you don’t have time to check out a local university, or if you’re interested in a school that’s not easy to visit, head to the athletic program’s website and find the team’s roster. A roster can be pretty telling when you look at certain details. For example, are coaches finding recruits in one region of the country more than others? Read the athletes’ backgrounds to learn about their key stats and any awards they earned in high school.
Based on your accomplishments so far, could you get recruited alongside these athletes? Also, note their majors to help gauge whether or not your academic goals are compatible with your sport at this school.
NETWORK WITH FORMER OR CURRENT COLLEGE ATHLETES
There’s no better source than a college athlete. Reach out to former classmates you know who committed to college athletics and ask for their opinion. Don’t forget to prepare a list of questions to make the most of your time. You may want to ask about their daily routine, recruiting experience, free time, offseason and classes.
To get started, you can read how a former Division I college-athlete sees as the biggest differences between high school and college sports: Five major differences between high school and college sports.
GET AN HONEST, THIRD-PARTY EVALUATION
An unbiased third-party can tell you which division you’d fit into athletically, and from there you can decide if you want to pursue those types of schools.
A good place to start would be your high school or club coaches. Chance are, they’ve seen a variety of student-athletes compete, and even better, they’re usually in contact with college coaches. Or, you can attend a showcase or camp where recruits are being evaluated.
Before you embark on your recruiting journey, you want to be sure that college athletics is the right experience for you. Doing a little research, visiting colleges and learning about an athlete’s firsthand experience are great ways to determine whether or not you want to pursue playing at the next level.
Lastly, keep in mind that it’s possible to compete and enjoy your sport without making it the primary focus of your entire college experience.