Tips for parents and students to play by the rules in navigating the collegiate sports recruiting process
Ann Arbor, Mich. — Sept. 25, 2014 — While many prospective college students focus on academic scholarships, there are also a large number of student-athletes that strive to play on a collegiate sports team. Approximately one to two percent of undergraduate students in bachelor’s degree programs receive athletic scholarships totaling roughly $1 billion a year. But when is the right time to start the recruiting process and how does a student receive an athletic scholarship?
Financial advisor and college planner, Timothy C. Parros, CCPS, founder of Parros College Planning, an Ann Arbor, Mich., based company providing resources for the college admissions process to parents and prospective college students, offers insight on how the collegiate sports recruiting process works and what prospective college student-athletes can do to increase their chances of playing for a Division I, Division II, or Division III schools.
“One of the most common questions I get asked by parents of student athletes is when to start the college recruiting process,” Parros said. “In middle school, the academic piece should be the focus for the student-athlete; however athletes should be on the radar of coaches and recruiters early in the game so they can keep tabs on the student through the developing years. This means the student-athlete should start prepping during sophomore year; by the time junior year is reached, the athletic ‘marketing plan’ can be in full effect.”
According to Parros, the student must initiate contact with the college coach before his or her senior year; a Division I coach cannot contact a student directly before July 1 between the student’s junior and senior year. Further, the initial introduction by the student must be done via email. However, college coaches can communicate with the student’s high school coaches prior to July 1. After July 1, college coaches can contact students and campus visits may be offered at that time.
How does a student capture the attention of a college coach who is inundated with emails from students across the nation wanting to play for that specific school, on that specific team? Parros recommends the first email sent from the student should be generic and sent to all of the coaches on a student’s college wish list. Subsequent contact should be personal with direct responses to characteristics of the team, school and coach.
“One of the easiest ways to personalize contact with a coach is to respond directly to questions the coach poses and tailor those responses to the specifics of that team,” Parros said. “Students should provide insight into skills and capabilities that would enhance the team and demonstrate knowledge of not only the sport, but also the accomplishments of the specific team the student is interested in playing on.”
Parros also says videos are a useful tool to help a student stand out among the thousands of other college-athlete hopefuls and demonstrate specific athletic talents.
“It is very beneficial for student athletes to have a video made from games throughout the season and uploaded to YouTube,” Parros said. “The coaches can look at the videos and gauge a student’s potential or a particularly strong athletic talent, such as a three point shot.”
According to Parros, student athletes do not need to hire a recruiting company to assist in the process.
“There are numerous students who have been successful in playing for Division I or II schools on scholarship after contacting the coaches directly and handling the promotion of talents individually,” Parros said. “The most effective way to do this is through the school’s own student athlete portal on the college’s website or other online resources.”
Parros adds that while Division III schools can’t offer athletic scholarships, they can offer academic scholarships to deserving athletes. Lastly, Parros reminds students and parents that “student-athlete” begins with ‘student’.
“While coaches recruit based on talent, abilities and potential, they are also looking for students who excel in the classroom. A low GPA cannot be made up for on the playing field. Top schools want top talent – both in and out of the classroom,” Parros said.