The College Recruiting process – TYSA Guidelines
The college recruiting process can be a difficult one to go through so TYSA has put together the following information in order to help guide each player looking to advance themselves to the next level.
As a freshman or sophomore, college may seem a long way off. You are only half way through high school! Nevertheless, as the college process picks up speed during your junior and senior years, you will be thankful for having completed some simple groundwork early.
College coaches can begin scouting a high school player as early as their freshman year, and many are already doing so. Although they cannot officially call a prospective student-athlete until July 1st after their junior year, college coaches can send letters to express their interest and to provide information about their programs prior to July 1st. College coaches are always looking to develop their programs, so your talents as a sophomore and even as a freshman can give them ideas about the future of their teams.
If college coaches begin the recruiting process early, why shouldn’t you? There isn’t much you can officially do with respect to communicating with coaches because of NCAA rules and regulations (these rules don’t apply to NAIA schools and NJCAA junior colleges); however, there is plenty you can do for yourself. You should begin to figure out what you want from your college soccer experience. What would you like in a college soccer program? Would you prefer a large school with a large student body or a small school? Do you have a preferred geographical location? What about the climate? How far away from home are you willing to travel? What conference is the school in? What formation and style of play does the school undertake? Questions like these are important factors in your decision making.
Make A List
Draft a tentative list of colleges that interest you. Your list may consist of schools you are familiar with and schools you know absolutely nothing about. Don’t discount any schools that you are the least bit curious about and don’t worry if your list seems long! This is the best way to begin the college process and to be certain that you are not writing off any possibilities too early in the game. Do you know someone already in a collegiate soccer program that he/she really likes? Does a school have a particularly good academic department in which are you are interested? Answers to these questions can help populate your list.
After you create your broad list of potential schools you should research their academic offerings and reputation as well as their soccer programs. Your academic experience in college will provide an important foundation for your chosen profession after college. You must be happy with the school you eventually choose regardless of its collegiate soccer program.
So, educate yourself – read everything you can get your hands on pertaining to your schools of interest and their soccer programs, as well as the college recruitment process. There are many comprehensive and informative college resource books on the market, and the Guidance Counselor at your high school should have materials for you to browse. Finally, a great deal of information can be gained from school websites, and most collegiate soccer programs have homepages as well.
In order to participate in NCAA Division I or Division II athletics you must register with the NCAA Initial-Eligibility Clearinghouse. To become certified as eligible with the Clearinghouse, you fill out a standard student form and submit the required documents. This information verifies certain academic requirements and your graduation from high school. Although receiving certification with the NCAA Eligibility Center is not a difficult process, it is recommended you start your registration early – at the latest by the end of your sophomore year or the beginning of your junior year in high school. Your high school guidance counselor should be able to assist you with this process, and the online procedure is fairly simple to complete. Another section that has recently been added to the eligibility process concerns “Amateurism”. Prospective student athletes now have to read through and complete the questions asked, verifying that they haven’t played “professional” soccer within the course of their careers to date.
HERE is the link to the NCAA Clearinghouse.
To summarize, it is required that all prospective student-athletes go through the NCAA Clearinghouse before being eligible to play in any NCAA sport. The Clearinghouse is a way for the NCAA to make sure you have attained the correct academic education standard. Each prospective student-athlete must register and receive a clearinghouse number. To obtain the number, you must send in your transcripts and test results (SAT and/or ACT) and pay the registration fee (~$50 for US Students / ~$75 for International Students – fees are subject to change). You can register as early as a Freshmen in High School.
Writing To A Coach
Another valuable way to learn more about colleges and their soccer programs is for you to open the lines of communication by writing. Many collegiate coaches have standard information packets they will mail to high school players upon request, which may include forms for the prospective athlete to complete and return. This is a way for the coaches to keep a record of you. Remember, college coaches are not allowed to make phone calls to prospective players until July 1st after their junior year, so if you are a freshman, sophomore or junior the best way to contact a coach is to send a letter or email.
By writing, you take advantage of a great opportunity to introduce yourself as a prospective student and soccer player. The college admissions and recruitment process is a two-way street. Admissions officials and soccer coaches will be selecting you just as seriously as you are making decisions between schools, therefore it is essential for you to acknowledge your active participation in the process.
Your letter should be short and straightforward. The objective is to request information and to introduce yourself. You may include a more extensive soccer resume if you have one, however, there will be plenty of time in the future for this as well. If you keep your initial letters short, college coaches will be grateful and more apt to read your materials carefully.
How to contact coach
Contents of a letter – what to include:
- Name, high school, current grade level
- Home address, email address, phone number
- High school soccer experience: years on varsity; team accomplishments; personal awards (All-League, MVP, highest scorer, etc…)
- Club team experience: recent team accomplishments; personal awards; etc.
- Academic interests
- Community service/work
- Soccer resume (optional)
- List of upcoming club events/tournaments you’ll be participating in
Guidelines for Creating a Resume:
- Begin with basic, personal information – name, address, telephone number, school.
- List athletic accomplishments and provide information about your past teams, camps, tournaments, and other soccer experiences. Include athletic accomplishments in other sports as well – coaches like athletic versatility and talent.
- List scholastic accomplishments including: standardized testing scores (ACT, SAT, or PSAT) if available; participation in extracurricular activities such as school clubs, etc.
- Also include any coaching references and/or contact information for the coaches of your various teams.
Visiting A School & Program
Initial research online is great, but ultimately the best way to learn about a college or a university is to visit the “real thing”! While on campus you can take advantage of the information sessions and campus tours that most schools offer year-round. It is worthwhile to visit a school during the traditional school year so you can get an accurate sense of the atmosphere and a feeling for the student body. Also, try and see the schools you’re interested in play during their regular season to gauge the team’s level of play, the coaching staff interaction, abilities and demeanor as well as ascertaining if you could play at that level.
While visiting a school try to schedule a meeting with the soccer coach. Contact the coaching staff well in advance to make sure that a coach will be on campus and available to meet with you. This provides a great opportunity for you to ask questions you may have about the school and the soccer program. After chatting with a coach you will be able to determine whether or not you like them and whether or not you can foresee playing soccer for their program. Similarly, it is a chance for the coach to judge your character and devotion to soccer. This meeting is an opportunity for you to market yourself as a prospective soccer player and to let your personality shine through. A coach puts the same amount of emphasis on a player’s character and ability to work well with others as he does on a player’s individual soccer skills.
Guidelines for the meeting – what to bring, what to ask, what to say:
Bring a photocopy of your unofficial high school transcript. The coach will want to see your academic history to ascertain if the school is a good academic fit for you.
Bring a copy of your athletic resume if you are unsure if the coaching staff already has a copy on record.
Bring a parent. Although this may seem like an insignificant suggestion, sometimes it is important to remember that your parents want what is best for you. Mom or Dad may think of valuable questions to ask college coaches that you have not yet considered.
Ask questions. How does the coach run a typical practice? How much does the coach value weight training? What is the school spirit like for intercollegiate sports? Ask for a “year-round” resume of the program, etc… Asking questions can show you have given collegiate soccer a great deal of thought, that you are well prepared, that you are confident and determined to play an active role in the recruitment process – coaches will undoubtedly see these valuable qualities if you ask questions and come prepared.
Most importantly, establish an open dialogue with the coach. Let them know what your college admissions process has been like so far and be honest about what you are thinking while you continue to visit other schools and speak with other coaches. Hopefully, coaches will be honest with you – it is to your advantage to know where a coach thinks you will fit into their soccer program in the future.
Showcasing Yourself (DVDs, Recruiting websites, etc)
College coaches are eager to see you in action, but sometimes it isn’t possible for them to see you in person. Although your list of athletic accomplishments may be stellar, a DVD with footage of you playing soccer is a way to show coaches what you can do on the field. DVD’s are not always necessary, but if a coach requests one, you should try to provide it. It doesn’t need to be an elaborate production, so have a family member film you and keep the cost down or share the costs of hiring a professional with teammates
Guidelines for Creating Your Own DVD:
The DVD should be no longer than 15 minutes – coaches can tell if they like what they see after a few minutes so don’t discourage them by providing too much footage. Coaches receive many DVD’s and they are grateful for the short ones! Use a tripod when filming to keep the camera stationary and prevent the camera shaking.
College coaches want to see the range of your skills – not just you scoring goals! Show footage of different skills to display your versatility on the field – dribbling, defensive positioning, free kicks, etc., even your reaction to mistakes on the field. Choose footage from competitive games against good opposition.
Goalkeepers should include footage of various goal keeping drills as GKs do not normally see a great amount of action during games – this allows you to demonstrate a range of skills in the air, on the ground, throwing, etc. Include some footage from a real game as well – this allows coaches to note your temperament and leadership under pressure.
Another way to get game/skills footage to a college coach is through the internet. You can post footage on websites such as YouTube, and you can include the web address in your initial email or letter so the coach has easy access to review your footage.
Another method of showcasing yourself is by using one or more of the many recruiting websites. These vary somewhat both in the services they provide, and the cost of using them. Many are free, and simply offer the opportunity to upload a player profile whereas others offer the ability to upload game footage. Below is a list of some such student-athlete recruiting websites:
Build your own recruiting website:
The Official Visit
Although you can visit college campuses at your own expense, you are limited to just five official visits in which the college pays for part or all of your expenses. Completion of the SAT or ACT and a high school transcript are prerequisites to an official visit, and you may only go on an official visit after the first day of senior classes in high school. Usually an official visit consists of an overnight trip to campus where a member of the soccer team acts as your host. While you are on campus you will meet members of the team, learn more about the soccer program and get better acquainted with the coaching staff. In addition, the coaches and the team may take you to a sporting event and classes so you get a better ‘feel’ for the student body and the academic environment at the school. You may meet other recruits on their official visits as well.
An official visit is a great way to see what it would be like to be a student-athlete in college – so talk to people and take advantage of every opportunity to visit a classroom, sporting event, lecture, etc. You will be spending most of your time with players on the team, so you will be able to see what a typical day is like for a collegiate student-athlete. Ask the players what they think about the coach, his/her coaching style? Tell the coaching staff and the players what your academic interests are – there may be an event on campus of interest to you that you could attend, or maybe one of the players is majoring in that subject and can talk to you about the department. Talk to the players on the team – if you like the school, they may end up being your upperclassmen teammates in college and important figures in your life when you need advice and support.
The Unofficial Visit
These are becoming more commonplace as the recruiting process seems to be starting earlier than ever, especially on the women’s soccer side. Consequently, it is becoming more likely that recruits will be spending vacations, spring breaks, etc… researching and taking trips to the colleges or universities that they are interested in…on unofficial visits.
You are allowed to take as many unofficial visits as you wish as these are at your own expense. You can do everything that you would do on an official visit, however, there will be small fees involved. For instance, if you wish to spend the night with a player in their residence hall there will be a fee for this, if you go to eat with the players, coaches, etc… this will also be at your own expense.
Year-By-Year Breakdown & Checklist
FRESHMAN/SOPHOMORE YEAR (9th and 10th Grade)
Players should begin to formulate a list of 20 or more schools, varying in division and level. This is a great time to make initial contact by letter and/or email. It is never too early to start! Your cover letter should stress your interest in and knowledge of the program, so personalize each letter by reviewing the program’s past successes, (i.e. season record, tournament bid, player awards, etc….) to demonstrate you are familiar with their program! You should also highlight your own and your teams’ successes (club and high school). Include a soccer resume, if you have one, along with any pertinent club/high school schedules, and request further information about the soccer program, the university/college, and summer camps.
Division I and II schools can only respond to the introductory letter with a general questionnaire and / or a summer camp brochure but your contact informs them of your interest. You should further this initial contact by sending schedules (club and high school) and tournament updates, team rankings in the state, region, national (if applicable), recent awards, academic awards/scores, ODP experience, etc… Update as often as you feel is necessary.
Continue to research schools. Your research should focus on factors such as academics, athletics, size of school, location, cost, availability of scholarships. You should also take as many unofficial visits as possible to different types of schools – you have an unlimited amount of unofficial visits. Most coaches are more than willing to meet and talk. Campus tours can usually be set up through admission and/or a visitor’s center.
Sometime during the freshman/sophomore year it is recommended you enter the NCAA Eligibility Center (see link to NCAA in NCAA Eligibility section). High School guidance counselors should be of assistance in this process. It is also wise to evaluate your CORE courses and grade point average (refer to the NCAA Guide) early during this period so that you understand the required athlete curriculum to be completed in high school:
Div. I (16 Core Courses)
4 years of English
3 years of math (algebra. 1 or higher)
2 years of natural or physical science
1 extra year of English, math or science
2 years of social science
4 years of extra core courses (from any category above, or foreign language, non-doctrinal religion or philosophy)
Div. II (14 Core Courses)
3 years of English
2 years of math (algebra 1 or higher)
2 years of natural or physical science
2 extra years of English, math or science
2 years of social science
3 years of extra core courses (from any category above, or foreign language, non-doctrinal religion or philosophy)
Keep your grades up. Maintain a solid GPA of at least 2.5.
JUNIOR YEAR (11th Grade) The Most Important Year!
As of September 1st of the junior year, prospective student-athletes may begin to receive letters, media guides and other official soccer/university information from college coaches, faculty members and students (not boosters). Your “Top 20” list will vary from week to week or even day to day. Therefore, it is a good idea to continue your research and recruiting! You must also begin to research the academic side of schools in great detail.
Your efforts at being recruited should continue along the same lines as your sophomore year, but with more focus and deliberateness – try to narrow your search down to 5 schools. You should watch as many college games as possible. Continue to request further information as well as take more unofficial visits.
I strongly encourage you to register and prepare for the ACT/SAT tests during the fall (and research score requirements for each school). Don’t wait until the fall of your senior year as most academic packages from colleges are put together in the fall of your senior year, and are based upon your earlier scores and early deadlines.
*Note on Standardized Tests:
These are a national measurement for colleges around the country. Most students in America take their SAT’s and ACT’s during their Junior and Senior years of High School. College Admissions will look at the prospective student’s GPA combined with the testing scores to determine admission into their perspective school.
SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test)
HERE is the link for the SAT.
ACT (American College Testing Program)
HERE is the link for the ACT.
SENIOR YEAR (12th Grade)
Review all academic requirements and stay on track. Make appointments with your High School Guidance Counselor to ensure you are scheduled to fulfill all the requirements. Apply to all universities / colleges you are interested in attending and stay on top of the application process.
As of July 1st of your senior year, you may receive phone calls from coaches at the NCAA Division I and II levels. Coaches are limited to one phone call per week. Messages don’t count as a phone call. If your parents speak with the coach about the university and/or soccer program, then that phone call will count for that week, even if they did not speak with you directly. Letters, emails, faxes, etc… are unlimited. Also, beginning your first day of class, you can begin to take official visits – remember you have five official visits total! These visits are by invitation only! Official visits are expense paid visits. Do not be discouraged if you have not yet committed to a school. College coaches often fill their rosters over the final stages of the recruiting process.
Helpful Hints & Tips For the Recruiting Process
Be realistic when searching for a school – there are many very good schools/soccer programs including NCAA DI, DII and DIII, NAIA, NJCAA (Junior College).
If you are very interested in a schoo, try to attend their summer soccer camp (if available). This is a good way for you to see the school and for the coach to see you!
Watch as many college soccer games as possible – Fall and Spring. Try to schedule official or unofficial visits around these games.
Don’t send out a mass letter and/or email and forget to change the name of the school and/or coach.
Be polite on visits – ask as many questions as you can – also don’t be afraid to ask the team questions that you might be afraid to ask the coach.
How does the team interact both on and off the field?
Send a tournament schedule either Tuesday or Wednesday prior to the weekend’s tournament – don’t leave it until Friday, most college coaches will have already left.
Don’t be afraid to email coaches to say hello/congratulate them on a win/just to chat.
Don’t be put off by the “lower scholarship offers” – that might be all the program has left available for the upcoming season. If you really want to go to a certain school, and you can manage the low scholarship to begin with – think about it seriously – scholarships can increase and decrease depending on your attitude and performance.
Remember top level schools you may be interested in attending for academic reasons often have extremely good club team programs. These can also be very rewarding, but with less focus on soccer, i.e.: it won’t take up as much of your time.
DON’T CHOOSE A SCHOOL JUST BECAUSE OF THE ATHLETICS … YOU NEED TO BE ABLE TO PICTURE YOURSELF AT THAT PARTICULAR INSTITUTION BECAUSE YOU “LOVE” THE WHOLE ATMOSPHERE AND ENVIRONMENT!