While many student-athletes focus on playing for a big-time Division 1 sports program, there are actually many reasons why junior college might make sense instead. Not only are junior colleges much more affordable and tend to be generous with athletic scholarships, but they also offer an opportunity to boost your grades before transferring to a bigger university. Additionally, many junior college rosters have talented volleyball players on them and well-known programs like to recruit players from junior colleges because they know they’re getting athletes that have college experience and can play right away.

There are more than 300 junior college women’s volleyball programs in the US, and internal NCSA research shows that many volleyball coaches recruit from junior colleges. In fact, 77 percent of D1 coaches, 94 percent of D2 and NAIA coaches and 72 percent of D3 coaches recruit from junior colleges.

So, if you’re interested in how the junior college recruiting process works, here are 6 facts to guide you, as well as how to take advantage.

How involved are junior college coaches in the recruiting process?
In general, most families and student-athletes will find that junior college coaches are more involved in the recruiting process than high school coaches. Some programs want to be known as prominent feeder schools for bigger programs and help their athletes along the way. However, some do not. In the end, volleyball athletes and their families should be the ones who are the most active in outreach and communication with college coaches.

Is it a bad look for a junior college athlete to transfer out after one year?
The coaches at four-year schools don’t think so! While junior college coaches would like to hold on to volleyball athletes for two years, coaches at four-year schools simply want to find the best talent they can get, whether that’s a one-year JC player, two-year JC player, international player or four-year transfer player.

Do coaches from four-year schools recruit junior college players for starting roles?
Yes. Generally, coaches from four-year schools look at junior colleges for impact players that can help them right now. With high school volleyball recruits, coaches have more time for them to develop and transition into the system. With junior college athletes, coaches want someone to compete for a starting position, get on the court and help win games right away.

When should junior college volleyball athletes start the recruiting process?
Four-year college coaches are always recruiting, so it’s smart to start outreach and communication in your first year of junior college. Some coaches may have a roster spot open in their sophomore class and may want to fill it with an experienced volleyball player. Some may have an opening right away. The important thing is to not wait until your second junior college season is done, as it may be too late to find a spot.

Is video important for getting recruited out of junior college?
Yes. When scouting high school athletes, college coaches often like to attend high-profile tournaments where they can get a firsthand look at a lot of players. But many junior colleges are located in a rural area and may be difficult to travel to for college coaches. That’s why video is a critical part of the recruiting process for junior college athletes. Also, NCSA research shows that college coaches favor game highlights over skills footage but tend to evaluate through a mix of both.

Is the junior college search more targeted than in high school?
Possibly. Student-athletes want to reach out to as many schools as they can but having one or two years of college classes under your belt tends to make the process more focused because of academic goals that are more defined. For example, if you’re looking to major in Engineering and a university doesn’t offer that major, it wouldn’t make much sense to play there. Also, your athletic abilities should be more defined at this point, making it easier to tell which division level offers the right fit.

While there are still many more questions about the junior college recruiting process for volleyball, these should get you started off on the right foot. For more information, make sure to check out NCSA’s College Recruiting Guide before setting up your online recruiting profile.

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This article is written by NCSA Athletic Recruiting.  Read more about NCSA.