College prep and recruiting by class year: What you need to know

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School ball season is almost here again! Evaluate where you are and what you should be doing by age level THIS SUMMER, RIGHT NOW regarding your academics and/or college career. Normally we would start with youngest to oldest, but we have found so many graduating athletes and parents right now that are behind in the process so let’s start with the urgent needs of seniors for college volleyball recruiting first!

INCOMING SENIORS:

Academics – You have fall and part of your spring semester to get your grades up as much as possible. Focus on academics, every point may help especially if you are close to being in the top 10 percent, which can be critical for some schools and scholarship money.

College Testing – If you have NOT already taken the ACT or SAT or are unhappy with your score, continue to take the test until you are satisfied. Use downtime at tournaments to study if your school work allows. Consider test prep courses and tutoring. Prep courses that have great results and online reviews include: Veritas prep, Kaplan, Princeton review, EPrep, and Study Point. We used three of these online resources and in person tutoring. It was the six weeks of in person tutoring at our house through Study Point that helped our senior increase her ACT score (components of her score by seven points and total by four points). THAT WAS HUGE!  Of course results vary by person. The increase in scholarship money (much needed because our daughter is attending a Division 3 school) WAY outweighed the cost of the tutoring.

College Application/Acceptance – IF you have already committed to a school for ball and know where you are going, know the deadlines for your school. Some Division One schools have early deadlines, while some smaller schools that have early application deadlines as well. Applying early for some colleges (depending on size of school) may increase your scholarship money, help you get the dorm you want and even the roommate you want. If you are already committed and you are the first freshman on your new team to get accepted maybe you even get the first choice of remaining jersey numbers. Make visits to the school this fall as your high school ball schedule allows. Go watch the coach in action and stay with the team if you can. Watch other sports at the school and immerse yourself in the new team and school you will soon join.

College Recruiting- If you haven’t even started recruiting or still don’t even know where you might like to attend, much less play, the simplest, quickest, and most affordable route to get help (in our opinion) are sites like Be Recruited or Captain U that you can pay by the month (as low as $14.95) and see what opportunities remain. If you haven’t already registered, go register with the NCAA and NAIA eligibility centers. Likewise go register on the athletic websites of colleges you like (be reasonable, at this point it is doubtful there are many D1 opportunities remaining except for maybe in the Northeastern part of the US).

You should be videoing high school games, uploading them to YouTube or a recruiting profile and emailing them to coaches along with your past year club games as well as upcoming club schedule and game stats.

Be open to junior colleges or “jucos,” which are usually the last to sign athletes and still have plenty of opportunities available. Pay special attention to jucos IN TEXAS if you need help paying for college – they have at least 10-12 full scholarships to award each year for players. Junior colleges offer a great (FREE) jump start to a college education and we have found that the coaches work really hard at the end of your juco career to place you at four-year institutions if you wish to continue in your sport.

ScholarshipsIF you have committed and already know where you are attending: then NOW IS THE TIME to be working on scholarships (if you are not receiving a full ride). You need to be completing your FAFSA online and reaching out to as many scholarship opportunities as possible. For scholarships, first think locally like credit unions, utility co-ops, businesses, and non-profits that offer scholarships. Second, think of the skills, credentials, affiliations that you or your family have like being a veteran, kiwanis, church denomination, hobbies, school, or other affiliate type programs (like FFA, Young Life, 4H, Girl Scouts, etc). Last, think globally. Go check out websites like: Cappex, Fastweb, College Niche, and the Scholarshipdesk. Understand some of the national scholarship sites like these have MANY MANY people applying so understand you MUST STAND OUT! Of course your high school counselor should be a resource for scholarship opportunities as well. You can always go check with the university or college you will be attending for additional opportunities.

JUNIORS:

Academics – Work on those grades! Your grades and rank in your class may be critical for admittance into some colleges and scholarship opportunities. Definitely double check with your high school counselor to make sure you are still on track to meet all of the eligibility requirements to attend college and play ball.

College Testing – If you have not considered test prep courses (online, book, or school sanctioned) now is a good time to take those courses, use down time at tournaments to study if your schoolwork allows. Like we mentioned in the “Senior” section of this post, test prep courses we have found that have great reviews and results include: Veritas prep, Kaplan, Princeton review, EPrep, and Study Point. Or maybe this is the year to take classes at your high school, or purchase prep books from your local book store and get started!  We highly recommend some kind of test prep prior to taking either the ACT or SAT especially if you know you are not a good test taker or good scores are critical for admission or scholarships!

College Application– Applications don’t open until around the first of August before your senior year, so start preparing now! Junior year is the time you should be narrowing down your decision to no more than four schools and finalizing where you want to attend (if you don’t already know or haven’t committed), and what career you would like to have after graduation. If you have no clue what you want to do, visit with your school counselor, take a Myers Briggs personality test or career test, consider a college and career prep program like Prepso  that help match up your aptitude, personality, leadership, interests, and likes to help you maximize success toward an education and career. Then you can match up what schools offer your potential degree plans with volleyball opportunities. (PARENTS – school counselors are typically bombarded with too many kids to truly help here and have found that a program like Prepso can MINIMIZE the amount of dropped classes and degree plan changes, get your student out of college and on the best career path for them much more quickly, which translates to LESS MONEY WASTED).

If you haven’t already registered go register with the NCAA and NAIA eligibility centers. Additionally go register on the athletic websites for the colleges you are interested in.

College Visits – Visit colleges you are interested in during the fall season – go watch the team, coach, see how they interact when they win and lose. Go during the spring as well experience what campus is like, maybe stay with the team (most high schools allow at least one if not two visits your junior year), plus many colleges have designated spring athlete visit days/weekends, just for high school juniors – Go check out the college websites NOW and PLAN AHEAD to attend. Go to as many college summer camps as possible to see if you like the coach, facilities, location, players, and watch the interaction between the players and coach to see if it is a good fit for you. Our oldest athlete was able to narrow down schools just by interacting with the coach and team during the camps. Many of the college summer camp schedules are already on the calendar. It is our belief you really can’t attend too many college camps if you can afford it. You will get more touches on the ball, receive a new perspective on skill coaching and be able to weed out your likes and dislikes.

College Recruiting – You definitely need to be videoing games and uploading to YouTube (from your school and club seasons), and/or adding to your recruiting profile to email out to coaches.  (Recruiting websites definitely facilitate communication as you are not having to track down coach emails – see the links in freshman/sophomore sections below). If you or your high school team achieved something newsworthy (like won state, achieved setter of the year for your region, etc.), let the coaches know as well. If your club team achieved something worthy like a tournament win or bid, let your potential coaches know.

Scholarships – Not much you can be doing right now to apply for scholarships, but you can go look at potential scholarships opportunities that might appeal to you, check out the requirements and start working toward them.  You can also increase (AND DOCUMENT your hours) your involvement in extra-curricular school, church, and community programs and volunteering.  Documenting your involvement and hours also makes it very handy when you are applying for colleges as many colleges require a certain amount of hours for acceptance. For example, one university my athlete applied to included 10 questions/areas regarding volunteer, community involvement or leadership experience.

SOPHOMORES:

Academics – Can’t say enough how much being a good student and get good grades can help you not only get into college, improve your scholarship dollars, and be a successful student in college. Make sure you are on the right path to having all of the requirements you need for acceptance in college. Check out the NCAA eligibility center to see core requirements.  Likewise, make sure you are a well-rounded citizen, not just a great student or athlete, get involved as much as time allows in other school and community organizations. Build a stellar academic and leadership resume that no college or coach would turn down. Many colleges and coaches care about character and leadership on and off the court. Waiting until your junior and senior year to build your academic, volunteer and leadership resume may be too late.

Now is the time to start thinking about which classes you like or excel at in school and a direction you might like to go. The summer after sophomore (and junior) year is also a great time to shadow people (or get a summer job) in careers you might enjoy and get a taste of what that profession might entail.

College Testing – Can’t say enough, it is never too early to start preparing for the ACT and SAT. Now is a good time to start at the basic level taking courses through your high school, community colleges, online, or buy test prep books. Take the PSAT.

College Application (Researching) – At this juncture, researching schools is a great start. Think about a degree plan that sounds interesting to you and find schools that offer that program. Maybe you went to a summer camp for whatever reason at a college and liked your experience. Continue looking into seeing if that school is a good fit. Consider personality, aptitude, college, and career testing either through your high school counselor or a private organization to help you think about a degree or career path and double check that the colleges you are interested in offer those programs. This is actually where volleyball recruiting websites can come in handy!  Using some of the search engines they offer to narrow down by degrees and positions can really simplify the process for you.

College Visits – While you can’t take any official visits as a sophomore, you can go to college games, summer camps, training programs, etc. Knowing that sophomore club season and your next year as a junior is when college recruiting really kicks in high gear, go find summer camps at the colleges you like and attend! College camps are the one “legal loophole” where you can talk to and get to know coaches.

College Recruiting – If you haven’t already as a freshman, we highly recommend using a recruiting service. There are 5 main recruiting services:  Berecruited, Captain UNCSA, National Scouting Report and Volleyballrecruits as well as three recruiting do it yourself guides/programs: Recruitme, Recruitingregistry, and Sandrecruits. Recruiting services do a few things:

  • Simplify the process for you! Most have a free profile, registry and search engine of what colleges have openings for your position regardless of which package you use.
  • Facilitates communication between coaches and athletes – you don’t have to track down coach’s email addresses.
  • It can actually open your eyes to a world of possibilities or a college you have never heard of in another state that is a great fit academically and athletically for you (which happened to us!). Spend as much or as little money as you have to spend. There is truly something for every budget.

Talk to your club coaches about college coaches and programs they are familiar with or recommend. Club coaches can be a great window to the world of help. Sometimes it’s all about who you know. Oftentimes clubs have relationships or discounts to some of these recruiting services.

Make sure you are videoing club (and school) games and adding them to your profile or uploading to You Tube. As a sophomore, truly the only kids getting recruited are those super tall front row players interested in playing D1. Don’t worry, there is plenty of time and plenty of opportunities. Build your resume and profile!

Scholarships – Get involved in extra-curricular activities of all kinds and keep a log of how many hours you spend each day/week participating in it. Branch out and try getting involved in different activities outside your comfort zone. Build a stellar community service and leadership resume

 

FRESHMEN:

Academics – Grades are important now! Finish your freshman year strong. Stay dedicated to studying and getting good grades during club season. Learn now how to balance academics and athletics.

College Testing – Take the PSAT if your school allows. It’s never too early to start test prep.

College Application (Researching) – Think about where your family, friends, teachers, coaches went to college. Start there. Think about volleyball teams you like to watch. Think about where you might like to go to school. Consider going to summer volleyball camps this upcoming summer break at various colleges. It is never too early to put yourself in front of college coaches.

College Visits – Attend summer camps, games, go to spring practice matches.

College Recruiting – Consider signing up for a recruiting service. Attend summer camps.

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