Preparing for Official Visits

Now that most senior prospects have started their final year of high school, official visits to college campuses are in full swing. Official visits are often the final piece of the puzzle in the recruiting process for prospects. When a coach brings an athlete in on an official visit, they are often beginning to invest more than just time in a prospect. Now they may be spending money to fly the prospect in, put him or her up in a hotel, and provide them meals and entertainment during the stay. Official visits often include lots of time with the current members of the team to see if the other athletes are a good fit and to Preparing for Official Visitsstart the team-building process.

But to get the most out of these visits, prospects need to remember the rules about official visits. It takes planning ahead of time to maximize official visits in the recruiting process.

Getting Eligible for Official Visits

To take an official visit in Division I or Division II, a prospect needs to do the following:

  • Register with the NCAA Eligibility Center;
  • Be added to a school’s institutional request list at the NCAA Eligibility Center;
  • Provide the school with a transcript; and
  • Provide the school with a standardized test score.

If a prospect has already registered with the Eligibility Center, and sent transcripts and test scores, the school should be able to access them from there. The requirements for what they need to send to a school for an official visit are lower than what the NCAA or a school’s admissions office requires. Test scores can be printouts of the testing agency’s website or on transcripts. The PLAN and PSAT tests are accepted in addition to the ACT and SAT. And transcripts can be unofficial copies.

If you have been actively recruited and official visits have been mentioned, gather up copies of these documents and register with the NCAA Eligibility Center, previously known as the NCAA Clearinghouse. That way you can send the necessary information as soon as the coach invites you on a visit.

Maximizing Your Five Visits

In Division I schools, a prospect can take five official visits. In Division II schools, Division III schools and the NAIA, official visits are unlimited. Prospects who are being recruited by both Division I and Division II schools should take advantage of this, and give many Division II schools a chance. All prospects being recruited by Division I schools should select their five visits carefully. If you can take an unofficial visit to a school on your own dime, that is a good way to get an initial feel and possibly rule a school out without wasting an official visit.

Prospects should also keep in mind they are permitted only one visit to each college. Pick a time to visit that will help you gather the most information possible. That means picking the week of a home game to see the atmosphere around the team, or making sure part of the visit falls on a weekday so you can attend a class.

Not All Official Visits Are Equal

An official visit is a visit to a school’s campus where any part of the visit is financed by the school. That means what is provided on an official visit can vary widely from school to school and sport to sport.

In Division I football, men’s and women’s basketball, and baseball, schools are only allowed to provide a certain number of official visits each year. Football is permitted 56, baseball is allowed 25, and basketball is allowed just 12. Men’s basketball must also split visits between seniors and juniors, who may now take official visits starting January 1 of their junior year. Because the schools are limited in how many visits they can provide, any official visit in those sports tends to indicate the coaches are very interested in the prospect.

In other sports, it is the budget, not NCAA rules, that limit official visits. Coaches who need to stretch the budget may not pay for everything during an official visit. One common practice is to ask prospects to pay for the plane ticket, then they cover everything else. Some visits may not last the full 48 hours. And sometimes an official visit simply means the coach bought the prospect lunch. What the coach is willing to pay for can be an indication of how serious your recruitment is. That said, prospects should not dismiss a program that is pinching recruiting dollars, especially if everything else with the program seems top-notch.

One last tip for prospects is to be on the lookout for extra-long visits. Official visits are limited to 48 hours,but coaches may bring the prospect into town the night before and put them up in a hotel without starting the clock. This not only costs more, but the coach also wants to maximize the amount of time on the visit and make sure the prospect is in a good state of mind. If you are lucky enough to have such a visit planned for you, it almost always means you are a top priority for the coaching staff.

Do Your Homework

Official visits can be some of the best parts of the recruiting process. Prospects get to travel to a campus, experience a bit of college life, and are the center of attention for a couple of days. But while it might seem glamorous, prospects need to remember that the school is putting its best foot forward. And that official visits leave a big impression when you ultimately decide which school to commit to. Use some of these resources to make sure you get the most out of your visits:

Do you have any questions about taking an official visit? Just ask us in the comments section below, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+!

Strategies to Help You Get Early Scholarship Offers

In the majority of our blogs we highlight how top recruits go through a slightly different process than the rest of potential college prospects. We want recruits of all abilities to learn the ins and outs of college recruiting, and the best  Strategies to Help Get Early Scholarship Offersway we can show you this is by telling you what you see and hear all the time and help you to apply it to your own recruitment.

Every day there are reports and articles published about top recruits including, where they plan to attend college, how they are staying on track with NCAA eligibility requirements, and which college coaches are expressing interest in them. Depending on how you look at it you may think top recruits have an easier time finding the right college because they are being bombarded with interests from top schools across the nation, but in reality they are going to have to make the same decision as you- which college should I attend?

Want to Know How They Are Making Their Decision?

Most top recruits today want to get signed as soon as possible, they want to have their senior year set aside for all the fun stuff; ending their high school season, senior days, prom and SAT’s. Recruits have started making “unofficial visits” a top priority in their recruitment to help them finish the recruiting process earlier. Recruits, with the help and support from their parents are able to plan and finance trips to colleges with the purpose of finding the right one and committing when they feel their decision is made.

Want to Know Why the Nation’s Top Recruits are Relying So Heavily on Unofficial Visits?

It’s because the NCAA does not need to regulate unofficial visits- they do not need to keep track of the amount of unofficial visits you take and you do not need to have your NCAA eligibility information completed before you are able to take an unofficial visit. Plus there is no time frame- you are allowed to stay as long as you want (official visits are limited to 48 hours each visit) this will allow you and your family to ask the questions and get the answers so you can make the most informed decision when it’s time to choose the right college for you.

Take the Lead From the Top 150

There are many top recruits who are unofficially visiting a school up to five times to make sure  they are making the right decision. You should be doing the exact same thing. Even though you may not be a top recruit, it does not mean you should not work as hard as they do; get your name out there, reach out to college coaches now, make college opportunities happen for you. You are the only link to making sure coaches know who you are and what you are capable of doing on the field.

If you have more questions about how to schedule an unofficial visit than leave your comment below and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+!

Learn How to Choose the Right College for You

Knowing which college campus is a good fit for you is a major part of the recruiting process. You never know how much you will like a college until you have seen it first.  We often hear from recruits who have changed their mind about a college they had no plans of attending just because they took the time to visit the campus. Choose the Right College by Visiting Colleges

Only You Will Know Where You Will Fit In

Having the opportunity to visit a campus is one of the best things a recruit can do when narrowing down their college choices. It is one thing to be active in your recruitment and know everything about a college according to their website, but it’s another to actually take the time to visit and really learn all you can.

It’s Not Just About Seeing the Campus in Person

The purpose of visiting a college campus is to get in touch with coaches. Even though you will most likely be making the rounds and taking a general campus tour, it does not mean you should pass up an opportunity to meet face to face with the coach. If a coach is aware you will be on campus, they will view you as a recruit who is taking initiative. In making the trip, it shows college coaches how interested and serious you are in attending their school.

Get All Your Scheduling Done Before Hand

Ideally, you and your family should work around the coach’s schedule so you can have that face-to-face introduction. Of course, this is not always how things will turn out, which is why recruiting takes a lot of time and a lot of planning. You need to also keep in mind coaches and their staffs are busy; they personally may not be able to meet with you due to prior commitments. This is OK; ask to meet with a representative of the athletic department to ensure you are getting up to date and relevant information about your sport. Making sure to schedule the meeting or tour with a sports representative will be instrumental for your recruitment.

Asking Questions that Are Important to You

Everyone has their own opinion about what is important to them. Choosing the right college is all about learning as much about a school as you can and choosing what aspects are most important to you. Some athletes will believe having a state of the art training facility will make their college experience, while others will want to be part of a college with lots of school spirit. Whatever you are looking for in a college you will know it when you are there.

If you have more questions about visiting a college campus than leave a comment below and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+!

Official Visit: Make Sure it’s Your Athlete’s, Not Yours

Official Visits For Athletes

As a parent, it is easy to get caught up in the recruiting process with your athlete. Choosing the right college is a huge decision for your athlete and your family, and visiting schools is an important part of that process. When your athlete is invited to make an official visit to a school, you want to make sure that they get everything they need from that visit to help them make a decision.

Official visits allow athletes to experience going to college firsthand. They spend time with the team members, go to class and practice, and also get to know the community and school life. While parents are usually welcome on these visits, the athlete should be the focus of the experience, so it’s a good idea for parents to stay home for this trip. Parents should be there to help discuss options and give advice, but they should never take over the visit. Coaches want to get to know the athlete and show them everything they have to offer, but they don’t want to deal with overbearing parents who won’t let the athlete speak for themselves.

It’s a Practice Run for Letting Go

Allowing your athlete to experience their official visits on their own will give you and your family a good idea of what to expect when they finally move on to college. Parents will experience what it will be like not having their athlete at home, and the athlete will see what it feels like to be a student athlete at the college level. It’s important for parents to be able to let their athlete go on their own since coaches will be the ones interacting with your athlete the most, and they need an opportunity to get to know the athlete without the parents there. This gives a better glimpse of how they will adjust once they are enrolled at the school for their first year.

Who Wants to Go to the School More: You or Your Athlete?

It is always important to make sure that the school you are visiting is a good fit for the athlete. Oftentimes, parents put a lot of pressure on their athletes to attend schools that they (the parents) want them to attend. While it is a good idea for your athlete to keep their options open, it is crucial that the athlete is visiting the school because they want to, not because their parents are pushing them to.

Find Something You Like about the College

Parents need to support their athlete as they make their choice in college. You should offer advice and insight and help the athlete recognize the strengths of each option. Do research and have discussions with your athlete so that they have all the information they need in order to make the decision. But don’t make the decision for them; the athlete needs to be able to finish the process and reach their own conclusion. It is the athlete who will be attending the college, not the parent, so they should have their say in where they want to go.

Is your athlete getting recruited? Do you have questions about how to start? Leave your questions in the comments section below or find us on FacebookTwitter, or Google+!

Parents’ Role on an Unofficial Visit

parents unofficial visits

Researching a university is difficult; researching colleges for your child may prove to be even more difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. The key is to make sure you are guiding your child and being a supportive parent during this crucial step in your child’s life. As a parent, you should be encouraging yet unbiased and supportive toward your child throughout their recruitment process.

Think back to when you were at this point: having to decide what college was a best match for you and what your college needs were. For the most part, your child is going to have the same questions you did, so make sure to be there and assist your child in their big college decisions.

As a high school athlete, your child may begin to envision himself continuing his athletic career at the collegiate level. Being proactive in college recruiting will benefit your child and help in making the big decision of which university is the best fit. A great way to do this is to plan unofficial visits. You may have heard the terms “official” and “unofficial” visits before; note that these are two separate types of visits. Official visits are when a college coach formally invites an athlete and sometimes one parent to visit the college. The university is the one who will pay for the trip, whether it is money for a flight or a night stay in a hotel—each university is different, and therefore, expenses for an official visit will differ.

An unofficial visit is when the athlete and the family visit a college campus and schedule a time to meet with an athletic coach or someone from the athletic sports department that is specific to their sport. All of this takes place with your child and your own time and money. It is not a visit unless you meet with someone on the coaching staff that will be able to answer athletic questions that your child or you may have.

Unofficial visits are a great way for you and your child to see colleges, to get a feel for the surrounding areas, and to meet with athletic coaching staff. Keep in mind that a visit is just that—you and your child are there to learn as much as you can about the university and its athletic program to see if it will be a good fit for your child.

Starting Off

When your child has voiced interest in certain schools, plan to tour schools that they are interested in during the summer before their junior year, or whenever you can. That will be a great start. Keep in mind that unofficial visits are 100 percent paid for by your family, so make sure you have budgeted accordingly for the trip and that you will be able to get the most out of each campus visit.

Doing the Research

Make sure that you have researched the school and that it meets the criteria that your child is looking for in a college campus. See what the school has to offer in terms of visiting and tours. If available, it is good to schedule a tour with current students that will accompany you and your child on a campus tour. Guided tours can be extremely helpful because your child will be able ask questions to students that are already enrolled and touch base on why they picked that university.

If your child is going to continue athletics in college, it is imperative that they begin making contact with coaches early on in their high school athletic career. If your child has not contacted any schools before you begin making plans for unofficial visits, then you are missing some great opportunities. You should begin contact with college coaches well before you make your unofficial visit so you can establish a relationship with a member of the coaching staff. That way, you know that the coach has expressed interest in your athlete and would like to get to know them.

Contacting the Coaching Staff

Shown on most university websites, the entire coaching staff is listed along with their phone numbers and e-mail addresses. If your child is serious about playing college sports, then he needs to be proactive in his recruiting process and has established himself as a serious college sports prospect. Have your child contact the coaching staff to inform them that he would like to meet during an unofficial visit to the campus to get his questions answered and to learn more about the sports program. If you are unable to meet directly with the coach (usually if it’s the middle of their season), they will most likely try sending a representative to take their place. But it’s better to try to meet with the coach directly, so ask ahead of time when they will be available.

Knowing What to Ask

Prepare a list of questions both for the campus tour and for the coach. This will allow you to sit down after the visits and compare the pros and cons of each visit.

You can learn a lot about a school on an unofficial visit, so make sure to take advantage of the opportunity! Know what to expect and make the most out of the trip!

Do you have any questions about making unofficial visits? Leave your questions in the comments section below or ask us on FacebookTwitter, Google+!

Unofficial Visit: Your 10 Point Checklist

10 Questions To Ask1. On Your Unofficial Visit, You Need to Establish What the Academic and Athletic Requirements are

Whether it might be a certain grade point average, involvement in different athletic programs while you were in high school, elite athletic status, recommendations from coaches, or past game footage, you will want to find out the exact details on what they are looking for in athletic scholarship candidates.

2. You Will Want to Find out What Academic Support the Athletic Program Provides

 Academic support will be very important to your success in managing both the commitments from your classes and your team. Find out what services advisers and professors offer and whether they may assist students in obtaining tutors, arrange study groups, or even help you to create your schedule, to effectively get good grades while also excelling at your sport.

3. Find out How Well the Program is Doing in Competition and Recruiting

Ask the coaches how their season is going and how they are doing on recruiting. This will give you a sense of where the program is headed and what kind of success you can expect.

4. Find Out What the Commitments Will be in the Offseason or During Holidays

 Many coaches expect a year-round commitment, so you will want to find out on your unofficial visit if you are required to train from home or on-site during summers or holidays in order to plan accordingly with family members, a job, or any other obligations you have.

5. On Your NCAA Unofficial Visit, Exploring Living Arrangements is a Must Since You and Your Parents Need to Feel Comfortable About Where You Will be Staying

You may want to find out if most athletes live in dorms with roommates that are also athletes, if there are options for sharing rooms versus having your own space, and what the time line is for student athletes with regard to living on campus or off through the years.

6. Find Out What Kind of Coaching Style Coaches Use

 It’s important to find out on your unofficial visit what the training regiment is to prepare yourself when the sport is in season and to find out a sample schedule, information on drills that might occur, and specifics about how the coach runs the practice for each position on the team.

7. Find an Opportunity to Meet the Current Athletes

 Having camaraderie with your potential new college-level sports team members is a necessity. See if you can speak with a current team member on your unofficial visit and find out how they let loose outside of school and sports. You will be most successful and work hardest when you have a team you relate to, so this will help you to see if and how you will fit into their lifestyle.

8. What are the Training Facilities Like?

As an athlete, just because the season ends doesn’t mean you don’t need to continue to work out, train, and work with professionals on campus to help with any physical or medical issues. You want to find out on your unofficial visit what tools they provide you to continue to be successful in your sport and to keep on challenging yourself to get ready for a new season when the season is not in session.

9. Find Out if a Coach and His Staff Plan on Staying at a Particular School

 When you do the research, pick a school you are interested in, and find the perfect coach to challenge you athletically; you want assurance that they will continue to work with you throughout your tenure at the school. You want to find a coach you respect, who can help with your development and lead you to success; and once you do so, you will want to make sure their time line at the college matches with yours so there are no surprises.

10. On Your Unofficial Visit, You Need to Size-up Your Competition

 Find out what the coach is really looking for and how well the recruiting staff and decision makers are doing in terms of their search for new additions to their athletic teams. Get a sneak peek into how many people have shown interest and what you are going to need to do to stand out.

Are you planning any visits to colleges? If you need to get the phone number or email for coaches before you visit let us know and we can help. Leave your questions in the comments below or check in with us on FacebookTwitter or Google+!

10 Things to do on Your Official Visit

10 Things Official VisitGoing on an official visit is a great opportunity to see a school, meet the team, and get a sense of what going to that school might be like. It’s important you get to see not only the athletic facilities but also what life is like for a student. Here are some tips for making sure you get the most out of your official visit.

1. Eat at the Cafeteria on Campus

You get a lot of perks as a student athlete, but one of the things you will have in common with all of the students is where you eat on campus. Try the cafeteria and see if it is food you like.

2. See the on Campus and Off-Campus Housing

Most official visits include a tour of the on-campus dorms, but make sure to go and see where athletes live once they move off campus. Also, think about how you will get back and forth from school and home.

3. Go to the Library and Study Hall

You probably won’t spend as much time here as the rest of the students on campus but make sure to see the academic facilities. If a program has a good tutoring area it is a good sign they support their athletes academically as well.

4. Meet the Training Staff

Be sure to take time and meet the staff in the athletic department and training rooms. These people are critical to the success of a team and a happy athletic staff is the sign of a well-run athletic program.

5. Schedule Time to Meet With an Academic Adviser

Showing the initiative and seeking to meet with an academic adviser on a visit can pay off in the long run. You may find out that the major you want to study won’t actually work with your team’s practice schedule. Better to find out now rather than after you have committed.

6. Just Hang Out on Campus

Take some time to just sit on campus and see how students utilize the campus. Are people out enjoying the campus, or is everyone just going to and from class? Having a campus where people enjoy spending time will make a big difference in how much fun you will have over four years.

7. Sit in On a Class

Maybe the last thing you want to do on a visit is go to class, but learning how classes are run and seeing what the classrooms are like will give you a better overall picture of what the school is like.

8. Talk to Student-Athletes From Other Teams

On visits, you get plenty of opportunities to meet the team, but be sure to talk to some athletes from other sports teams. Getting a sense of how happy other athletes are will let you know more about the athletic program as a whole.

9. Go Out With The Team Members

Take time and see what athletes do during their time off. Besides getting to know your potential teammates better, you get to see what life is like when you aren’t studying, practicing, or competing.

10. Don’t Be Afraid to Say No

It can be intimidating on a visit to speak up if you aren’t comfortable, but remember this is your recruiting process. You don’t have to go along with a team member or do something just to impress someone.

Are you making visits to colleges but are having trouble getting a hold of coaches? Maybe you are just looking for help in getting started with the recruiting process. Leave your questions below in the comments section below or contact us on FacebookTwitter, and Google+!