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College Athletics Recruiting: Developing a Personal Recruiting Inventory
By Tom Kovic

The college recruiting process has developed into a highly competitive arena. It has become an intricate process that requires sound planning, the development of an accurate information base and the willingness to take a proactive approach in carefully executing the recruiting plan.

Each prospect is unique in their goals, timing and student-athlete abilities, but there is one common thread that should run through every well planned college search: The development of a personal recruiting inventory.

Developing a personal inventory is a great exercise that can serve families well in organizing for the college quest, but it can also act as a tool that will develop a confident level of self-awareness as the prospect moves forward in navigating a potentially daunting path.

Academic Goals: Goals give meaning to any worthy effort and a quality academic experience should be at the top of the priority list. Roughly 75% of prospective college student-athletes are undecided about declaring a specific academic major and most colleges and universities do not require students to declare until after the sophomore year.

This is a great time for a “team discussion” where the prospect, parents and the high school guidance counselor can sit down and discuss the many options available to the prospect. You may not know the exact academic direction you plan to choose, but this exercise could very well begin to point you toward a general academic direction.

Athletic Level: Knowing your true level of athletic ability will help you narrow down your potential college choices. The important component here is being honest in the evaluation of your raw athletic talent and again, I suggest utilizing the team approach and bring your club coach into the family meeting!

By executing a fair and impartial assessment about your current and potential talent as an athlete, you can help avoid “spinning your wheels” when searching college options that are well above or below your talent level. There is nothing wrong with “reaching” toward college programs that are a level above your current ability, but you want to set realistic goals, especially as it pertains to being a potential impact player in a particular program.

NCAA Division Options: This is a great time to learn about the differences between NCAA Division 1, 2 and 3 athletics. “Option” is the operative word here and whether you would like to play at a big time Division 1 school or for a smaller division 3 program depends on several factors.

If gaining an athletics scholarship is a critical element in your decision to attend college, the Division 3 option will need to be eliminated since these institutions do not offer athletics aid. On the other hand, if you are looking for a well-balanced student-athlete experience, Division 3 schools are outstanding choices and should be at the top of your list!

Geographic Location: How far are you willing to travel away from home and still enjoy your college experience? This might sound like a marginal area of concern, but first determine if you are more of a “home body” or an “explorer.” Some kids can’t wait to shuffle cross country to enjoy their college experience, while others are very content with attending a school that is only a few hours drive from home.

Size of School: When I was an undergraduate student-athlete, I shared a campus with 35,000 other students. It was an urban environment that was invigorating, exciting and sometimes overwhelming, but it was the right fit for me. Do you wonder if the grass is greener on the other side of the road? I suggest you get out there and take a look!

Begin by visiting several colleges that consist of small (up to 5,000 students), medium (up to 15,000 students) and large (over 20,000 students) undergraduate populations. Spend a half day on each campus and try to get a general feel for the environment. At the end of each visit you will sense a “gut” feeling for each institution that will serve as a good reference point of comparison.

By developing a college inventory prospects and families will begin to grow a basic awareness about the college recruiting process. First, you will grow a greater appreciation for the variety of college options that are available and secondly, you will begin to develop a stronger sense of self-awareness and self-confidence as you begin to execute your plan that will lead to a very important life decision.

The college recruiting process is competitive, grueling and sometimes frustrating. That being said, the college search should be an exhilarating time in the lives of our children and the more concrete information they gather and the better prepared they are to successfully execute their individual plans, the greater the chance for a more positive experience.

Tom Kovic is a former Division I Head College Coach and President of Victory Collegiate Consulting, where he provides individual advisement for families on college recruiting. Tom is the author of “Reaching for Excellence” An educational guide for college athletics recruiting. For further information, visit:

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