By Lina Taylor, 2x Olympian in Beach Volleyball
With transfer rates reaching epidemic proportions among student athletes in collegiate sports, a natural question arises: are coaches and athletes doing enough on the front end to ensure a good fit? To answer this question, we must uncover the definition of what is a “good fit.”
1. Know what you want (and what you don’t want)
One of the biggest mistakes high school athletes make when they start the college selection process is to have the mindset: “I’ll go to any school that will give me a scholarship.”
While it may feel that college coaches have all of the power in the process and you are at their mercy, putting thought into what you want your college experience to be is key to ensuring a good fit (and keeping yourself from becoming a transfer statistic).
Spend time thinking what is important to you – does the program create a good team environment, where everyone contributes or do they seem to favor “star players”? This question alone can tell you a ton about how much playing time you can expect to get.
Other things to consider: graduation rates, availability of academic and career advisors, personal values and faith, alumni association (you will spend 4-5 years in college but a whole lifetime in the real world, where knowing the right people can go far in ensuring you have the best employment and other opportunities).
2. Begin your selection early
This is nothing new, yet so many student athletes still get caught in having to make a last minute decision because they didn’t consider all of their options. Managing your time effectively in the whole process will allow you to make the visits you want, be at the camps you need, and make an informed decision that will support your success.
3. What can you do for the team?
Read this carefully as it is a key concept in making your dreams become reality. When a student athlete who is a freshman or a sophomore in high school makes an inquiry to a college team and words his or her letter to the coach like this:
“Dear Coach, what open positions and needs will your team have in the fall of 20XX, when I will be a freshman in college? I am a ….(state your position, stats, etc.) and I’d like to have an opportunity to contribute to the excellence of your program.”
Coaches are bound to listen, note, and when the time comes put you at the top of their list. Nothing says more to a coach than a person who is willing to put their needs in front of one’s own. Even if you don’t get a position at that school, you will most likely make a friend for life that will later no doubt give you a job recommendation with full confidence in the quality of the person you are.
4. Will you be eligible?
This is something you need to stay on top of – if it seems complicated, ask for help. The last thing you want is to graduate from high school thinking you are college-bound only to find out that you are missing classes that you have to take in the summer or even worse, render you ineligible to play. Here is the website for the most up-to-date NCAA eligibility requirements
5. Do the work: videos, camps, unofficial visits, etc.
Making a highlight video is a must and it does not have to be a high cost production. A coach knows what to look for and can see it even from a hand held mobile device video. I would spend my time and effort in making sure I have enough “highlight”-type moments in each match I play and let your friends edit the film.
You can learn a lot about a coach and a program if you have an opportunity to go to a summer camp put on by the school. This will also ensure that the coach gets plenty of opportunities to see you play. These summer camps can be expensive – think about creative ways to organize a fundraiser during the year that will help you pay for the camps you want to attend. Same thing goes for unofficial visits – don’t let lack of funding stop you from taking this opportunity.
If there is a will, there is a way. To your success!
Take advantage of a FREE Get Ready For College course this summer – register today at college-bound-student-athlete.com
About the author: Lina has never stepped away from a challenge and inspires others to face the impossible and experience unprecedented success. At just age 14, growing up in communist Bulgaria, she realized that her future lay in earning a scholarship to an American university. Read more about Lina here.