High school athletes are faced with a lot of pressure when it comes to planning out their college path. They are expected to begin thinking about where they want to go to college, what they want to study, and where they plan to work after college. To say that’s not a lot to consider as a teenager would be misleading. In addition, if a high school athlete wants to compete at the college level they will need to do a lot of extra work to find the best college fit for them.
Why recruiting starts so early
Being prepared for college recruiting is what we stress most when guiding high school athletes through the process. Recruiting is one of those things student-athletes usually don’t think about until their senior year in high school, or even later. One of the most common questions we have seen recently is: Can I get recruited even if I do not have the playing experience most of my teammates have?
The short answer to this is “yes” you can still get recruited. The long answer is there is no time to waste in the recruitment process. In order to be considered a serious recruit you will need to begin reaching out to college coaches as soon as possible. Not just mass emailing or calling every coach in the country, but connecting with coaches who run programs you are going to be qualified to compete at.
We understand that some athletes are not sure if they have what it takes to compete at the college level, which results in them holding off on their recruitment until late in their junior year or even during their senior year of high school. This is not that uncommon, but student-athletes need to realize there may no longer be scholarship spots available if they begin the process too late.
Understanding which division level you are going to be best qualified to compete in will help you immensely in your recruitment. If you are an athlete who has only been seriously competing for 1-2 years you may need to get your feet wet at the NJCAA level first. If you are not a starter on your high school team you may consider NJCAA or a smaller NAIA college. This is not to say that NJCAA or NAIA lack competitiveness, it only means that they are able to accommodate athletes of all skill levels unlike the selectiveness of NCAA divisions I and II.
Know all of your options
In the case you are late in figuring out if you want to compete at the college level you will want to consider walking-on to a college team. This is the perfect opportunity for athletes who have been accepted to a particular college, but did not jump on their recruiting to-do list early. In order to be considered a walk-on recruit you will need to continue to keep college coaches informed. Just because you are accepted into the college it will not guarantee you a spot on the team.