Realities of Recruiting

If you’re in the top 1% of your high school sport nationwide, college scouts already have you on their radar screen. They may have started looking at you years earlier through sports camps or club teams.  Most likely, the college recruitment process already has begun.

But if you’re not being scouted by your sophomore year, in all likelihood you are not a college athletic scholarship candidate at a top-tier school. That is the harsh reality of college athletic recruitment.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t play sports in college and get some financial assistance for doing so. You’re just going to have to go about it a little differently!

You will have to leverage your athleticism and academic excellence to get into the best college possible – and at the best price.

RecruitU2 will help you sell yourself by sending your athletic profile and academic credentials to every school for which you qualify in the hopes of getting recruited by them. Even if you don’t receive an athletic scholarship, there is a good chance you may be offered significant financial assistance in the form or merit scholarships, grants, etc.

Your Recruitment Options

Just for a moment, think of your recruitment options as if you are wrangling for a date with an attractive classmate. You could:

  1. hope that the classmate noticed you in the crowded school halls or in a class;
  2. tell mutual friends of your interest;
  3. get set-up on a blind date;
  4. use a social networking site to get on his/her radar screen; or
  5. introduce yourself by discussing some common interest or activity.

Similarly, your athletic recruitment options are:

  1. wait and hope that college coaches find you;
  2. ask your high school coach for help;
  3. use a scouting/marketing service;
  4. post your profile on an internet recruiting site??;
  5. market yourself with the assistance of RecruitU2.

In each scenario, the best option is the one in which you actively sell yourself by communicating directly with the decision maker. RecruitU2.com gives student athletes the tools to market themselves directly to thousands of colleges across the country. The more contacts you make, the better the chance of finding a school that needs your talents and where you will be academically successful while obtaining assistance in paying college costs.

Colleges and universities need to know you are out there and the best way they’ll find out is if you contact the coaches directly through email and let them know about you.

RecruitU2 is the only service that gives you the tools to market yourself directly to every college coach – the decision makers.

Before you start the recruiting process, as a high school student-athlete, you need to become familiar with the realities of the college recruiting process. You need to understand what really happens in the recruiting arena and you need to make sure you want to be recruited for the right reasons. Having the wrong set of expectations and goals will only result in disappointment. Having the right expectations will allow you to find the best fit for your goals at the best price.

  1. Know what your real goal is: an education, a degree, and a diploma. Sports are an extracurricular activity.
  2. Be realistic – are you a future Olympian or Professional athlete? You need to know that 99% of high school athletes are not. As a result you need to open your mind and explore every opportunity.
  3. Understand who the players are, how they work, who they target and what they offer.

DI, DII, DIII Colleges How they work, Who they target, What they offer:

  • DI colleges are required to sponsor a minimum of 7 sports for men and women or 6 for men and 8 for women. Their primary recruiting focus is on the top 1-2% of the athletes in the top 5 – 6 states that produce the best athletes in the sport their recruiting. DI schools must offer a minimum number of financial aid awards to student-athletes without exceeding the cap established to ensure fair competition. Every DI athletic program also requires a minimum participation commitment which varies by sport, as well as a minimum paid attendance at home games in sports such as football.
  • DII colleges are required to sponsor a minimum of 5 sports for men and women or 4 for men and 6 for women. DII schools have a greater emphasis on providing a comprehensive program of learning and development in a more personal setting. Since their athletics programs a financed by the institution budget like other academic departments they tend to have a smaller recruiting budget, which limits coaches to a recruiting area of 500-600 miles from campus. Every DII school has a maximum number of scholarships awards to offer for each sport which can’t be exceeded. As a result few DII athletes receive a full scholarship and fund their tuition through a combination of methods including – scholarship money, grants, financial aid and employment.
  • DIII colleges are required to sponsor a minimum of 5 sports for men and women with a minimum participation and contents requirements for each sport. It is important to recognize that financial aid and funding differ at the DIII school versus DI and DII. Student athletes who play their sport at the DIII level do not receive financial aid related to their athletic ability. This is a result of their emphasis on the impact of athletics on the players not the spectators, allowing the primary focus to be on academics. Since athletics are funded like any other academic department their recruiting budget is much lower. DIII schools offer financial aid packages in the form of academic scholarships, leadership scholarships, merit-based scholarships, grant money and needs based financial aid.

Recognize that DI and DII schools tend to view athletics in a more formal, business-like manner. Their scholarship athletes are expected to be dedicated and focused on their athletic training and development. Their formal and informal training requirements far exceed those required and/or expected at the DIII level. Competition to get in and to stay in at the DI and DII level is fierce and all athletic scholarships are performance based so they are only year-to-year awards. If you want DI or DII only schools for your athletics, you need to be willing to commit to year-round training and work.

Be prepared, if you focus solely on DI and DII schools to recruit you, that you will likely need to be in the top 10% of all athletes in your sport nationwide to receive an athletic scholarship. If you are willing to be recruited but receive no athletic scholarship (hoping to receive other financial support), you run the risk of not making the traveling team of your sport and may end up practicing and working as hard as the scholarship athletes but never given the chance to actually compete at the collegiate level. This is not meant to discourage you from trying, just to remind you to be realistic (see NCAA stats in RU2 links).

Your Options To Ensure You’re Recruited

Virtually every high school athlete dreams of one day playing their sport in college. If that weren’t the case, RU2 wouldn’t be here to help, but many student athletes and parents are unsure of the best way to get recruited and what the pros and cons are of each option.

The true options available to most student athletes are:

  • Ask high school coach for help.
  • Wait and hope college coaches find you.
  • Purchase a scouting and marketing service.
  • Market Yourself.

The reality of each option:

HS Coach - Pros

HS Coach - Cons

  • Knows your abilities
  • May have relationships with Colleges
  • Help support you
  • Limited time to help
  • Willingness to help
  • Limited Options

High School coaches are a great resource and supporter for high school athletes looking to be recruited by college coaches, but you should recognize their limitations. High School coaches, in most cases, are both coaches and teachers. Most high school coaches coach on a part time basis (e.g., it’s not their full time job) and, as such, commit what would normally be non-work free time to their coaching duties. Coaches routinely spend time coaching that would normally be spent, if not coaching, with their families. Because of this, high school coaches literally don’t have enough free time to aid and assist each of their student athletes in getting recruited. They have time to answer questions, give referrals, provide tapes or statistics, but they don’t usually have the time to call or write multiple college coaches on your behalf. Your high school coach may love your enthusiasm, skills and commitment to your sport, but the realities of his/her situation limits the time he can spend mounting a recruiting campaign on your behalf. You are better off asking the coach to be your reference. He will gladly talk with and recommend you to college coaches who are interested, and college coaches value, and take seriously, the recommendations of high school coaches.

Many parents and student athletes also believe that their high school coach knows a number of college coaches who would or could be interested in them. They assume that these college coaches will respond positively and the student athlete will be recruited by multiple schools. In reality, high school coaches might have close relationships with some college coaches but nowhere near the number you’ll need in order to be recruited by multiple schools. Each college coach has different needs every year (based on graduation, injuries and skill drop off) and that means that the coaches known by your high school coach might or might not have a need for an athlete with your skill sets.

Be Discovered - Pros

Be Discovered - Cons

  • Coaches may find you
  • Less work for you
  • Coaches don’t know you
  • Limited Options

Being discovered and recruited by college coaches is a wonderful ego boost and positive reinforcement of your commitment to your sport. It is recognition that all your hard work paid off and you’re being recognized as a valuable asset to a team. If the recruiting system was uniform and consistent across all levels (DI-DIII) and every coach had a recruiting budget and staff to find you, this would be the best option for every student athlete. Being found/discovered is cheap, easy and fun – coaches come to you, seek you out and try to convince you to play for them above all others. Reality, however, presents itself in this area too. The reality is that few if any coaches will find you. Why? Because the top 1-2% of all high school athletes are the focus of the DI schools and the remaining 98% of high school student athletes are left to fend for themselves. DII schools have significantly lower recruiting budgets than the DI schools and DIII schools basically have “gas money” for their coaches recruiting efforts. If you wait for college coaches to find and recruit you, you are relinquishing control over the process and putting being recruited at risk.

Purchase Scout/Marketing Service - Pros

Scout/Marketing Service - Cons

  • Developed relation with schools
  • Cater to top tier athletes
  • Professional video and profile services
  • Less choice in schools promoted to
  • Most athletes don’t qualify as top tier
  • Market athletes to limited # schools
  • Expensive and no guarantee of success
  • Less control over school choice

For a student athlete who is a borderline top 1-2% of the student athletes in his sport, scouting services might be a good choice. They are designed to identify and highlight your athletic strengths and minimize your weaknesses. They are usually professionally done and your information is catalogued and displayed in a web site designed to influence coaches. Most of the scouting services have relationships with a number of current college coaches in many of the NCAA sports, so there is some coach traffic coming to the site and some interaction between college coaches and student athletes.

You will need to balance, however, the positive aspects of recruiting services with the negatives. For the vast majority of high school student athletes, the negatives far outweigh the positives. Scouting services are very expensive. Most charge between $750 - $5,000 to put together your package. The process is passive and more selective – coaches must come to a specific web site, scroll through numerous profiles to find yours and decide if you’re a legitimate prospect.

Since the process is also based on the network of coaches known by the service, you are limited to that base of coaches potentially reviewing your profile. Some coaches (and parents and student athletes) view the packaging of the student athlete by recruiting services to be a bit more than necessary and no more reliable than recruiting the student athlete directly.

Since no one is allowed to act as an agent for a high school student athlete (e.g., talk directly to a college coach in support of an individual athlete), the information and conclusions of the scouting service can never be discussed between the college coach and the recruiting service scout who analyzed your abilities.

The scouting service can only discuss what they do and how they do it in broad terms with the college coaches. They are not allowed to talk specifically about you and your abilities so what is promoted in the scouting report has to either be relied upon or not by the college coach. In essence, you’re relying on coaches believing the reports of the scouts and trusting that enough coaches will take time out of their hectic schedules to find this site, scroll through all the candidates and single you out for attention and recruiting.

Market Yourself - Pros

Market Yourself - Cons

  • Control the process
  • Pick the best fit for you
  • Get to know the school, program and coach
  • How to research schools
  • How to make contact with coaches
  • How to introduce yourself to coaches
  • How to organize and manage contact
  • Lack of experience in recruiting process
  • Where to start

The only truly pro-active approach to being recruited is to introduce and market yourself directly to college coaches. It allows you to control the process, identify where your information is disseminated, and ensure there is no wasted effort expended trying to promote yourself to schools where you wouldn’t be interested in attending or where you have no chance of being accepted. Marketing yourself means gaining the attention of the coaches, alerting them to your availability and letting them know you’re interested in their team. You don’t have to rely on others to represent you, introduce you or wait for coaches to find you. You take charge, you decide the information to send and you send it to the coaches of your choice.

Marketing yourself, however, can be tedious and tiresome if you do it on your own. There are three aspects of marketing yourself to get recruited (marketing, negotiating, selecting) and the marketing aspect requires the most time if done on your own. You’ll need to research every school in the NCAA that supports your sport, identify key pieces of information on each and build a database to work from. Depending on your sport, it can take hundreds of hours to accumulate this information alone. You also have to determine the kind of information coaches are looking for (each sport is different) and use this information to put together a concise and effective one page profile to highlight your strengths academically, athletically and in the area of extracurricular activities.

How to Target Schools To Be Recruited

Guidelines

  • Don’t limit yourself to only DI schools.
  • Don’t limit yourself to big or small, private or public schools.
  • Don’t limit geographic distance.
  • Don’t limit yourself strictly to athletic scholarships.

One of the most frequently made mistakes of student athletes and parents is to limit their recruiting search and targeting efforts to strictly DI schools or schools within their state or a short distance from them. Their rationale makes sense on the surface, but when you understand what really occurs in the recruiting process it is to your advantage to broaden your search efforts.

Most student athletes focus on DI schools because that is what they know. They see their favorite college teams on the major networks, see the athletes interviewed on ESPN, follow the various pro league drafts and can only envision themselves playing for one of these well known, top tier schools. Their focus is on the dream of playing for a DI school rather than on the reality of what it takes to be recruited and actually play for one on one of these teams. As said above, you must be in the top 1-2% of the athletes in your sport nationwide to be considered for and recruited by these top school athletic programs. If you are recruited by a top tier DI school, your college will become a job….. the job of maintaining your athletic ability in order to maintain your scholarship so you can try to make the pros or Olympics. It isn’t real for the 98% of the student athletes in high school.

Instead, you should be looking at either the next tier of DI schools (for example the DIAA) or DII schools for athletic scholarship recruiting. Or, better yet, look at ALL schools and realize that coaches will decide, objectively, if you abilities and skills are a good fit for their program and their school. Many of these schools will be DIII and many of them will be out of state and some far away, but they will be schools and coaches who value you and are ready to make a commitment to you if you agree to come to their school and play for them.

Additionally, going to a school in your home state is not always as economically beneficial as going to a school in another state and leveraging your athletics to negotiate the best financial support. DIII schools, not having athletic scholarships to entice student athletes to their schools, have other scholarship and grant programs that make them, in many cases, more economical to attend than a state school in your own state. You must also realize that DIII schools have a great need for student athletes but little or no recruitment funding to find them. You are, in many cases, a more valuable student athlete to a DIII school than to a DI or DII school. Combining that with geographic distance gives you, in many cases, greater opportunities and financial support at the DIII level.

The key to this is being flexible and open to exploring ALL opportunities and discovering the great potential available to you from hundreds of DIII and DII schools across the country. Focusing almost exclusively on DI schools or schools geographically close to your home only limits the opportunities otherwise available to you.

Don’t eliminate schools from your search until after you have researched them.
Many student athletes eliminate schools from their marketing efforts simply because they haven’t heard of them. This is a mistake. As in looking for a job, you never eliminate a potential job opportunity simply because you heard of the company. The same applies to marketing yourself for recruitment. You need to let every school know about you.

Generate Interest

In order to find the best college at the best price you need to generate as much interest from as many schools and college coaches as possible.

Any good marketing campaign revolves around numbers of target customers. In the case of marketing yourself to be recruited, the same thing applies. You want every coach, at every school that you might qualify for admission academically to know about you and what you could bring to his team and school. More coaches knowing you and your skills, means more interested coaches to recruit you. It is a numbers game.

Don’t try and force your way onto a team. If the coach isn’t actively trying to recruit you, it isn’t going to be a good choice for you.

  • You’ll practice, never play.
  • Receive little if any financial support.
  • Not enjoy your college experience.

You may have dreamed all your life of wearing the colors of your favorite top tier school athletic program, but by making that school and team your only real choice, and not being actively recruited by the coach, means you have potentially ruined an opportunity that comes along only once in your scholastic and athletic career. Limiting schools limits opportunities.

Don’t allow yourself to be swayed by a coach simply marketing his school. If he’s marketing his school, he isn’t interested in recruiting you. He figures he’s already got you if you simply succumb to his marketing efforts without comparing any other coaches and schools, so why put in the effort to recruit you? Only coaches who see you as filling a need and adding to their team will recruit you. But if the perfect coach or coaches don’t know you exist, they can’t recruit you. Tell your story to every coach possible.

To put this in perspective, even the NCAA recognizes the limited opportunities most high school athletes have in moving up to the Div I level. The following is a graph of some of the popular NCAA sports and your chances.

Student-Athletes Men’s
Basketball
Women’s
Basketball
Football Baseball Men’s Ice Hockey Men’s Soccer
High School Student-Athletes 549,500 456,900 983,600 455,300 29,900 321,400
High School Senior Student-Athletes 157,000 130,500 281,000 130,100 8,500 91,800
NCAA Student-Athletes (all divisions) 15,700 14,400 56,500 25,700 3,700 18,200
NCAA Freshman Roster Positions (all divisions) 4,500 4,100 16,200 7,300 1,100 5,200
NCAA Senior Student-Athletes (all divisions) 3,500 3,200 12,600 5,700 800 4,100
Percent High School to NCAA (all divisions) 2.9% 3.1% 5.8% 5.6% 12.9% 5.7%

NCAA SCHOLARSHIPS
BY SPORT

The following table lists the allowable number of scholarships for NCAA divisions I and II, for both Men's and Women's athletics.

This does not suggest that each college program offers the full amount of possible scholarships for each sport. That decision is governed by each school's sports budget and other factors.

NCAA DIVISION I

Sport Men's Women's
Baseball/Softball 11.7 12
Basketball 13 15
Track & Field 12.6 18
Football 85 0
Golf 4.5 6
Gymnastics 6.3 12
Field Hockey 0 12
Ice Hockey 18 18
Lacrosse 12.6 12
Rowing 0 20
Soccer 9.9 12
Swimming/ Diving 9.9 8.1
Tennis 4.5 8
Volleyball 4.5 12
Water Polo 4.5 8
Wrestling 9.9 0

NCAA DIVISION II

Sport Men's Women's
Baseball/Softball 9 7.2
Badminton 0 10
Basketball 10 10
Bowling 0 5
Track & Field 12.69 12.69
Fencing 4.5 4.5
Football 36 0
Golf 3.6 5.4
Gymnastics 5.4 6
Handball 0 12
Field Hockey 0 6.3
Ice Hockey 13.5 18
Lacrosse 10.8 9.9
Rifle 3.6 7.2
Rowing 0 20
Skiing 6.3 6.3
Soccer 9 9.9
Squash 9 7.2
Swimming/Diving 0 9
Synchronized Swimming 0 5
Tennis 4.5 6
Volleyball 4.5 8
Water Polo 4.5 8
Wrestling 9 0

FAFSA Information Page

FAFSA Tip
Remember that January 1st is the first day you can submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. FAFSA forms are evaluated on a first come first serve basis so you are strongly encouraged to submit yours on or near January 1st. Many states have a March 1st deadline, and in some states the deadline is February. You do not need to be admitted to college to apply for financial aid! However, you must be admitted to actually receive funds.

The FAFSA form is free so there is no reason not to apply. You can get a copy of the FAFSA from your guidance counselor, from the financial aid office at a local college or by calling 1-800-4-FED-Aid. The online version is available at fafsa.ed.gov. There is also more detailed information about this form and financial aid in general on this Web site.