What Should Rising Senior Student Athletes be Doing This Summer?
If you’re a student athlete hoping to continue your athletic career in college, an understanding of the recruiting process is essential. Simply playing well and hoping to “get noticed” isn’t an effective strategy.
And if you’re a rising senior, time is of the essence. Whether you’re being recruited by a few schools or aren’t being recruited at all, here are a few steps you can take this summer to increase your chances of playing your sport in college and possibly even getting an athletic scholarship.
Attend Training Camps or Summer Programs
Spend a good portion of your summer practicing and training. If possible, join a competitive summer league for your sport. Find training camps or summer programs you can attend to sharpen your skills and stay fit.
It’s also a good idea to attend showcase events, exposure camps, or other events that attract college scouts. Some of these events are invite-only. Depending on your sport, they’re a good opportunity to receive a player ranking, potentially earn media exposure, and catch the eye of a scout or two.
Don’t Forget Academics
Even if you’re a star athlete, college coaches can’t recruit you if your GPA and test scores don’t make the grade. Athletes with offers and scholarships still have to meet the school’s admission requirements. This means that the more colleges you qualify for academically, the more options you’ll have for athletics.
If your test scores are low, spend some time this summer studying for the SAT or ACT. Register to take the test one more time at the start of your senior year.
Once the school year starts, continue keeping up with your classes and earning high grades. Remember that the “student” part of student athlete is important too.
Reach Out to College Coaches
If you aren’t being recruited yet, or if you don’t have solid options, start reaching out to coaches immediately. Send out your resume and video footage.
Be realistic about your options. Talk to your high school coach about what level of college athletics you’re capable of playing. Make a list of schools where you would be a good fit athletically and academically. If possible, ask your high school coach to review your list and share feedback.
Note that if you haven’t received interest from top Division I schools yet, it’s a bit late in the process now. These schools begin recruiting athletes years in advance and are unlikely to have many (if any) roster spots left. Reach out to a couple if you’d like, but be sure to have several backup plans in place.
Once you’ve finalized your list, send personalized emails to each school expressing your interest. You can also reach out via phone, on social media, or by taking unofficial visits.
Be sure to let your high school coach know which schools you’ve contacted. Provide your coach with a resume of both your athletic and academic achievements so he or she can talk intelligently about you if asked.
Update Your Resume
If you’ve reached out to coaches in the past or have ongoing communication with coaches, it’s important to ensure they have your most up to date information.
- Test scores
- Courses you plan to take during senior year
- Most recent athletic times, achievements, etc.
- Most recent highlight video, if applicable
Send follow-up emails with your latest and greatest as needed.
The summer is also a great time to work on any areas of weakness in your resume. Study for standardized tests, hire a tutor, set athletic goals and train hard to reach them, work on packaging your highlight reel, etc.
If you’re being recruited by a few solid options, go back and visit the coaching staff and the schools. In the fall, you’re only allowed five official recruiting visits.
Over the summer, try to gauge the level of interest from the schools considering you. This will help you make your final decision, potentially earlier in the process.
As you make your choice, remember that the school should be a good fit for you academically and financially as well. You never know what will happen when it comes to athletics. Choose a school that you like for a variety of reasons, not just sports. This is another reason that visits are important.
Clean Up Your Social Media
As a student athlete, social media is a great way for you to promote yourself. Used incorrectly, however, your social media can steer college coaches in the opposite direction.
Post pictures and video clips of your sporting events, and be sure to keep your social media appropriate. Avoid references to any illegal or risky activities. Don’t post anything that could reflect poorly on your dedication to academics and athletics or on your morals.
Your talent is important, but so is your work ethic, integrity, heart, and — in most cases — ability to function as a selfless and cooperative team member. Make sure your social media reflects these values and makes you a marketable student athlete.
Familiarize Yourself with NCAA Rules
Take some time to familiarize yourself with the NCAA recruiting timelines and regulations. It’s not exactly exciting stuff, but committing a recruiting violation (even accidentally) can hurt you and your future team down the line.
Be sure to register with the NCAA Clearinghouse/Eligibility Center. You will also need to send your latest test scores. When you get back to school, have your guidance counselor send your transcripts to the Eligibility Center as well.
Consider Early Options
If you have a clear first choice and the coach is showing a strong interest in you, consider applying early to the school.
Early applications are typically due in November, so it’s a good idea to start gathering materials and even getting a jumpstart on your application essay. Once your athletic season and academic obligations are in full swing, you’ll have limited time to work on college applications.
You can also ask about an Early Read, which involves an early review of your application, transcript, and test scores. A good Early Read can result in a National Letter of Intent or “likely letter” from the coach.
Don’t rush the process if you aren’t ready yet. If you’re sure about your choice, however, finishing your recruiting process early can reduce stress and give you more time to prepare for college in the fall.
Final Thoughts: What should rising senior student athletes be doing this summer?
Even if you’re a talented athlete, you have to do your part to get your name, video footage, and resume into the right hands.
Spend this summer training, studying for standardized tests (if needed), contacting college coaches, updating your resume, and visiting schools.
Make sure your social media is free of red flags, and read up on NCAA rules and regulations. If you’re confident about a school and the coach’s level of interest, consider applying early.
College recruitment isn’t an exact science, and some talented players do fall through the cracks. By being proactive this summer, you’ll increase your chances of landing in a college classroom and on the field, court, track, or pool next year.
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