Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

How to Prepare Your Child Athlete for College Recruiting

If you have a talented child athlete, you have much to be proud of.

Your child's athleticism has the potential to set them up for a bright future, playing their favorite sport for a renowned college, or even professionally in the future. But if you want to best support them, you need to prepare them for the realities of college recruiting.

How do you do it?

The Trials and Tribulations of College Recruiting

College recruiting is notoriously stressful. There are hundreds of colleges to consider and the stakes are very high; this decision has the power to influence not only the next four years of your child's life, but potentially their entire career path and long-term future as well. 

On top of that, the recruiting process can be very confusing, offers and verbiage can be ambiguous and hard to parse, and there's a lot of pressure to make decisions quickly.

Your goal, as a parent, should be helping your child not only make effective decisions, but also cope with the stress inherent in this process.

Setting the Right Mindset

Everything starts by establishing the right mindset.

According to Dave Payne of Sparks Rowing, “Mentality matters. If your child understands the recruiting process, and they’re prepared for all the excitement, stress, and uncertainty of this period, they’ll be in a prime position to make a better decision – and feel less stressed throughout the process.”

Help your child understand that this is naturally a stressful process, and that it's something many people are going through. It's normal and acceptable to feel pressure, and it's healthy to acknowledge and work through that pressure.

Reduce Pressure

That said, it's helpful to reduce the pressure as much as you conceivably can. The college recruiting phase is going to lead to a lot of important decisions, and those decisions do require careful consideration, but it's not like your child's life is going to hit a dead end if they happen to choose the “wrong” school.

Similarly, it's often helpful to focus on the next few steps of the process, rather than getting overwhelmed by the process overall. If you're a junior in high school speculating what you're going to want when graduating college, you might end up feeling terrified of making the wrong decision. But if you're only focused on the next message with a college recruiter, you'll feel much more capable of managing the situation.

Be Mindful of Deadlines

It's important to be mindful of deadlines. College recruiters may request certain answers or decisions from your student athlete throughout the process. If you want to maximize your options chances of success, you need to adhere to these deadlines. Use a digital calendar and automatic reminders to stay organized, especially if you're dealing with multiple different recruiters.

Help Set Priorities

Choosing a college isn’t easy, and it’s even more challenging as a student athlete with countless potential options. To narrow down the field, you and your child should work together to establish priorities.

These are some of the most common priorities for aspiring college students. Which are most important to your child?

  • Location. One of the most important considering factors is location. Some students like the idea of staying close to home, while others have a specific destination in mind. Going to a college in your state may also have financial benefits.
  • Athletic programs. Obviously, you'll also need to think about athletic programs. Your child deserves to thrive in an environment with coaches, teammates, and an overall philosophy that aligns with them.
  • Study opportunities. Athletics aren't everything, however. You'll also need to consider schools based on their academic programs and studying opportunities. Does this school have a program that supports the career your student athlete wants?
  • Scholarships and aid. Scholarships and student aid availability also need to be considered. How many other factors are you willing to compromise if it means getting a full ride scholarship?
  • Prestige. Some universities are indisputably more prestigious than others. Getting a degree from a highly regarded university can be a massive advantage in your career and life after college – though prestigious schools also typically offer more challenging coursework.
  • Cost. Finally, you’ll need to think about cost. Scholarships and aid can mitigate some of your concerns, but you still can’t ignore overall tuition and fees for the institutions you’re considering.

Assist With Core Materials

You can also assist your child with assembling core materials for the college recruiting process, such as:

  • An athlete profile. There are many different ways to approach an athletic profile, but you'll usually have to assemble details on your child's athletic history and metrics detailing their performance.
  • A letter of introduction. A strong letter of introduction can set a great tone for future interactions with a college recruiter – and really help set your student athlete apart.
  • Game videos. Game videos and highlight reels show your child in action. Choose clips that show off your child’s capabilities and overall sportsmanship.
  • Honors and achievements. Any extracurricular honors and achievements can be beneficial for your student athlete. Help them track down activities to add to their resume and brainstorm honors and achievements they can list.

Actively Listen and Support However You Can

Finally, make it a point to actively listen and support your child however you can. Sometimes, they'll come to you for advice and guidance. Other times, they’ll just want to vent. Still other times, they may come to you looking for a distraction to take their mind off things for a while. Give your child the help they request – not merely the help you’d want in their situation.

With your assistance, guidance, and overall support, your student athlete is going to be in a much better position to pick a compelling offer and make decisions that have the power to shape the rest of their life for the better. This may be a long and challenging journey, but it's ultimately a highly rewarding one.