One of the most difficult things a student-athlete must do is find the right school that best fits their academic and athletic goals. The only way to accomplish this is to visit schools early and find their comfort level. I’m talking about “Unofficial Visits”. These are visits that a family takes on their own with NO financial help from the college. You may take as many unofficial visits as you’d like and you can start taking them at any time. I recommend that you start visiting schools when the student-athlete is in 9th grade.
Start by making a list of up to 10 colleges that you’re interested in. I believe you should schedule 2 visits in 9th grade, 4 visits in 10th grade, and 4 visits in 11th grade. Then, if necessary, as a senior revisit schools which seem like they may be a good fit. When you take each visit, be sure to take a “College Information Sheet” with you and fill one out for each school. You can find the “College Information Sheet” in the Student-Athlete & College Recruiting program under “Helpful Forms” on the left. By doing this, you’ll get an idea of what each college has to offer, what their program is like, and if you seem to fit there or not. It will also help you remember what each college had to offer long after your visit. You’ve just started the recruiting process on your own terms and at your own pace. If you can, make these unofficial visits a family event. After all, this will be a very memorable time in your life and it’s only going to happen once.
As you make each visit, make it a point to meet with the head and position coaches. You also want to meet with the academic adviser for your sport. Have them show you what’s required academically of an athlete at their school and find out if they specialize in any of the courses you may want to major in. Check out all of their athletic facilities, the locker rooms, and athletic training facilities. By visiting their school, you’re showing them that you are genuinely interested. They will like that!
By taking these visits you will get to meet more college coaches and they will in turn evaluate you, your personality, your demeanor, and also your parents. If you were not on the college’s radar screen before your visit, you will certainly be on it now. You may even start getting letters and/or contact from that school if you weren’t before. Either way, taking Unofficial Visits will help in every aspect of your college search.