Knowing what you want is one of the most important, and often challenging, parts of the recruiting process. The classic quote from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland certainly applies here: if you don't know where you're going, any road will lead you there.
You need to know, or at least have a good sense, what you want to happen during your recruiting process. This doesn't necessarily mean that you need to know exactly where you want to go to school right away, but you should try to have an idea of what you want to accomplish during high school and within your sport. And you need to be sure that your motivations and preferences are driving the process, not those of the coach who is recruiting you.
So, all of the info above is helpful and good to keep in mind, but it doesn't actually help you with the how.
What can you do to help you identify what you want?
Start by asking yourself the following question: if I could choose, right now, what school to attend, and I knew that I would be granted admission and a spot on the team, what would I choose?
Of course there are a few caveats and provisions to keep in mind. You have to be somewhat realistic with yourself. If you're a second string football player in New England, saying that you want to play for Alabama doesn't mean that it is hands-down the right school for you. At least not if playing football in college is truly important to you. Similarly, if you struggle to maintain a 3.0 unweighted GPA, setting your sights on Yale might not be the best strategy.
However, there are several pieces of information that you might be able to draw out of the Alabama answer. Maybe this means you want to go to a large school, where athletic competitions are widely supported and attended. Maybe this means you like the idea of getting out of New England for college, experiencing a different part of the country.
As you can probably tell, the second level question is why was this school my answer? what about it do I find appealing?
Even if you haven' t visited many schools, the line of thinking outlined above is still helpful. Being honest with yourself is hard. It also gives you the best chance of attaining what you really want. You owe it to yourself to be honest and give yourself the best chance of getting what you really want.
It's much easier to get over a disappointment than a regret. Please do yourself a favor and don't leave yourself regretting not going after what you really want.
In the Recruiting Process...
Most college coaches prefer to work directly with the prospective student-athlete (PSA). There are several reasons that it is important for PSAs to be working directly with coaches rather than having their parents or coaches do it for them including:
In your work with PSACC…
We take a similar approach as college coaches. Our goal is to help PSAs learn about themselves throughout the recruiting process while maximizing their college options. In order to do that we need to work directly with the PSA. However we very much want parents to be included in some elements of the process.
Ideally, PSAs will feel comfortable sharing all of their work and progress with their parents, and ideally parents will be supportive of their child’s decisions. Many PSAs have close relationships with their parents, the people who first introduced them to sports, drove them to practices and competitions, and sometimes coached their teams. Parents are often a PSA’s most trusted advisor. We hope that PSAs will engage in open conversations with their parents, especially at the beginning and end of the process when they are making big decisions.
Parents, please let your child do the work throughout this process. Stepping in and “helping” will limit many valuable learning opportunities.
Your college selection process ideally includes creating great options and then making an informed decision on which is best for you. Knowing how standardized tests fit into this process is one effective way to maximize your options. Below are answers to frequently asked questions about the standardized tests.
Should I take the ACT or the SAT? You can take either or, preferably, both. Since most colleges will count either your ACT OR your SAT score, it can only help you to take both tests. Check each school’s Admissions website to confirm the application requirements.
When should I take the tests? “Early and often” is perhaps the best answer. Students who wish to maximize their options will take the tests twice by the end of their junior year. To gain experience, some students consider taking the tests during their sophomore year. That said, there is plenty of time for testing during junior year. Retaking the tests in senior year can be an option. But waiting to start the test-taking process until senior year will limit options for recruited athletes since coaches often need to make recruiting decisions before or early in your senior year.
Why more than once? Colleges will often only count your best score. Additionally and importantly, most schools will “superscore” the SAT -- admissions will count the highest score from each section. Therefore, it can only help students to take the test multiple times. Note that some colleges do NOT superscore the ACT; only the SAT.
Other colleges are saying that I don’t have to retake the test. Why are you suggesting I should? Having higher scores can only help you gain admission to the best schools. Retaking the tests will expand your options. Which approach is in your best interest? Some coaches at schools with lower academic requirements are telling students not to retake the test, thereby limiting the prospects’ options so the prospects are more likely to choose their school.
Does practice help? Yes! Just like studying for any test in school, preparation and practice for the standardized tests can have a significant impact on your results. Similarly, the experience of taking the tests will usually make you more comfortable over time allowing you to improve your scores through familiarity with the process. There are many test preparation organizations and tutors available. Khan Academy offers a free version.
How early during junior year should I start testing? The SAT test is offered several times over the course of the academic year offering plenty of opportunities to fit with your schedule. Taking the tests for the first time during fall of junior year provides flexibility to retake the tests in the winter or spring. Keep in mind that you will want to take SAT II tests in May or June of your junior year.
What are SAT II’s? The SAT IIs are subject tests. Most schools strongly recommend or require that students take at least two SAT IIs. From a purely quantitative perspective, taking the SAT II’s can only help a student’s application.
What do you mean by “strongly recommend”? A few schools no longer require students to submit SAT II scores but expects that anyone with access to the tests will take them. The removal of ‘requirement’ allows exceptions for some international students.
When should I take the SAT II’s? Most students take SAT IIs in subjects they study during their sophomore or junior year of school. We encourage students to take these tests in May and/or June immediately after having studied that subject. Taking one or two of these at the end of your sophomore year can lighten the load during a hectic junior year.
Does it matter which subject tests I take? The subject tests are an opportunity to show colleges your strengths. Select the subjects you know best. Visit each school’s admissions website to determine if there are any restrictions or recommendations for which tests you should or shouldn’t take.
How do test scores factor into the recruiting process? A prospect’s academic profile impacts their ability to gain admission. Test scores are a key component and are needed as early as possible in the process in order to avoid wasting time if gaining admission is unrealistic.
The question should actually be phrased, “who is a PSA?”
This new company gets its name from a term created and defined by the NCAA...
“A prospective student-athlete is a student who has started classes for the ninth grade.” (NCAA Handbook, Definition of "Prospective Student-Athlete" [Bylaw 13.02.12]).
Accordingly, PSA College Counseling is for any and everyone who is interested in learning about how they can become a more attractive PSA and maximize their recruiting and college options. My goal is to help PSAs so that they will have a better recruiting process and a more fulfilling experience as a student-athlete in college.
The NCAA defines a recruiting as “any solicitation of prospective student-athletes or their parents by an institutional staff member or by a representative of the institution’s athletics interests for the purpose of securing a prospective student-athlete’s enrollment and ultimate participation in the institution’s intercollegiate athletics program”.
With a quarter of their team graduating each year, college coaches rely heavily on recruiting. They need to do this in order to have a successful team and be good at their job. But if coaches are trying to “secure a PSA’s enrollment,” which helps them accomplish their own goals, who is looking out for the PSA’s interests?
There are many college coaches who are outstanding educators who have dedicated their lives to developing others. But it can still be difficult to navigate the recruiting process -- to find the school that best fits your goals -- especially in the midst of stress and pressure from others.
PSA College Counseling is here to help! We put the PSA first and his/her goals first as we work together to navigate the recruiting process and identify the best fit school.