10 Things To Do If You’re Applying To College As An Athlete

For many students, the thought of retiring from competitive sports upon high school graduation is unthinkable. For many, continuing to play in college is a foregone conclusion… but what does the process look like? Making yourself an eye-catching prospect and creating connections with the right people can feel like a varsity sport in itself. While we always recommend talking to people with knowledge of your specific situation – and others who have navigated the same path you’re looking ahead to – here are 10 basic pointers and reminders to keep in mind as you begin the intimidating process of becoming a college student-athlete.

Read through and understand the NCAA recruiting guidelines.

As you likely are already well-aware, there are many strict rules and regulations in place to ensure that the recruitment process is ethical and fair. These include when college coaches can begin speaking with you, what types of communications they can have at what time, and so forth. Read through the NCAA guidelines for your sport, and keep in mind that these guidelines are updated annually and subject to change.

Learn as much as you can about the life of a college student-athlete.

The life of a college student-athlete and typical college student are much different. Learn as much as you can about what college sports entail and the commitment you’ll be making. It can be helpful to speak to current and former college athletes to hear their experiences and advice. As with anything, it’s good to go into the process with all of the information so you can figure out the level of play and commitment you truly want to pursue.

Review the NCAA I, II, and III divisions and make a list of 50-60 prospective colleges.

We’ve written previous posts about creating a balanced college list, complete with Reach, Target, and Likely schools, but this step looks a whole lot different as an athlete. Coaches get a lot of emails from prospective students, and often times a student will only get responses from about 15-20% of the coaches they send introductory emails to. By creating a much larger list of schools that meet your academic profile, athletic goals, and seem like a good fit in other ways, your odds are much better.

Start introducing yourself to prospective college coaches during your sophomore year.

Speaking of those introductory emails – experts “in the know” suggest sending emails by the middle of your sophomore year. This is about the time that recruiters start looking and will give you the most opportunity to get noticed. Keep your email brief and respectful, and don’t forget to attach your student-athlete profile.

Keep your grades up!

Don’t believe the myth that, if a coach wants you, you can glide right through the admissions process. While coaches can have a say in your admissions decision, it’s important that you meet the school’s standards beyond sports. Plus, good grades highlight your ability to balance your athletic and academic commitments.

Create a 3-5 minute video of clips to showcase your abilities.

According to seasoned recruiters, a high-quality video that shows off your athletic abilities is one of the most valuable and important tools that a high school athlete can have. Film yourself in HD and keep the video to 3 to 5 minutes. If you use game footage, make sure it’s clear which player you are. Some coaches will never have the opportunity to see you play in person, so consider this video a highlight reel of what they’re missing.

Visit campuses and meet coaches face-to-face.

We’ve talked a lot about demonstrated interest and the importance of showing a school that your interest is genuine. Additionally, visiting campus helps you determine if the school seems like a good fit for you – it can give you a little taste of what the next chapter could look like. As an athlete, visiting the campus also lets you scope out the athletic facilities, potentially meet your future teammates, and meet the coach (while showing them that you really do want to go there). Of course, the most important schools to visit are the ones with coaches who have shown interest in you.

Look into attending ID camps and Showcase tournaments.

In addition to creating your video reel, attending ID camps and Showcase tournaments are a valuable way to get noticed. ID camps are typically sponsored by a specific school, so they’re a perfect way to be seen and noticed. Showcase tournaments are for teams to compete, and they’re another hotspot for recruiters.

Highlight your story and your talents on social media.

Coaches are on social media, so this is another way for you to catch their eyes. You can use Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to post about your athletic achievements, share meaningful sports stories, and give them an idea of your character and personality.

Share your athletic stories through creative application essays.

Unfortunately, many sports-related admissions essays are filled with cliches. It’s important to share your story in a way that doesn’t sound like it could come from 90% of high school athletes! And, of course, that’s where we come in.

At the Enrichery, whether in our summer College Workshops or in one-on-one sessions, our team of academic coaches, writers, and editors can help you figure out exactly how you should tell your story. While videos, social media pages, and campus visits are all important assets to a potential college athlete, a strong application and essay might as well be the thing that seals the deal. Interested in working with our coaches and starting the admissions process on the right foot? Contact us today!