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College Sports Recruiting Tips, Part I

A collection of various sports equipment.

Being a college athletic recruit certainly sounds alluring. As college admissions continues to get more competitive, it’s understandable that high school athletes would have dreams of the day when schools compete over them, as opposed to the other way around. But college athletics recruiting requires more than simply waiting to be discovered; there’s hard work involved.

Here are five key things aspiring college athletes must do to prepare for the recruiting process:

1. Keep Those Grades Up. No matter where you apply, from the biggest Division I university to the smallest Division III liberal arts school, your GPA and test scores will be extremely important. Coaches will want to know that you’ll be able to balance a challenging practice schedule with collegiate coursework, and admissions offices will expect you to meet the academic standards of their school. If you’re hoping to play at a Division I or Division II school, take time to familiarize yourself with the NCAA’s requirements for academic eligibility and make sure your high school schedule, GPA, and test scores will qualify you; the Division I requirements are available here.

2. Work Hard, On and Off the Field. As you continue training to improve your athletic stats, remember that schools will want to see a dedication to more than just your sport. Schools—especially Division III schools—still expect you to pursue leadership positions in your extracurricular activities and show a commitment to community service, even if you’re being recruited for athletics.

3. Attend Key Camps, Showcases, and/or Tournaments. Learn what successful recruits in your sport did to get the attention of coaches. If your sport is one in which camps, showcases, or tournaments are important to the recruiting process, figure out which events are most beneficial, and make sure you’re there.

4. Create an Athletic Resume. Include your GPA and test scores, as well as your key statistics and accomplishments/honors (both athletic and academic). Look online to find examples of what to include for your sport, or check the recruiting questionnaires for your sport at a few colleges to see what coaches want to know.

5. Create Two College Lists. Do this earlier rather than later. On one list, include schools you’d like to attend as an athletic recruit. Include schools that are academic/athletic reaches, targets, and safeties. Talk to your coach and your counselor about schools you should be targeting. Then, make another version of the list assuming you won’t be recruited, keeping in mind that your GPA and test scores will need to be higher in this case. No matter what happens, you want to have a fallback plan.

In the next post, we’ll discuss what to do once you’ve made these preparations.

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