Is preparing athletes for college visits part of your coaching philosophy? If not, it should be. It’s been said that it takes merely 6 seconds during a first encounter, for the average person to judge another person. First impressions last and are crucial during the recruiting process. For this reason, when visiting a college or university you want to make sure that your athletes are presented in a positive light. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
Most recruits acquire an egotistical attitude when it comes to visiting schools, and believe choosing the school is solely based on themselves. Though the college/ university should be the best fit for the student, it is also important to note that colleges/ universities are also looking for students who will be successful at their respective school. It works both ways. While the athlete is judging the college, they should also keep in mind that they are also being judged by every person they meet during their 48 hours on campus.
There have been a handful of instances when I have lost interest in a talented potential student-athlete because of my interactions with the individual during their campus visit. Other times, I have lost interest in a potential student-athlete because of the way they interacted with the team or a professor. On the other end, I have become more interested in a recruit during a visit because they were simply a joy to be around.
Leaving a bad impression with various individuals at a college can have a negative influence on the school’s decision to admit a potential student-athlete. The way a recruit acts on campus can also affect the amount of scholarship money the school may offer if the recruit qualifies for such attention. As a student-athlete, being able to prove you are well rounded and can contribute to the team’s success on and off the track, will only improve your chance with admissions and scholarship opportunities.
Here are some tips on preparing your athletes for a college visit.
1) Be nice!
2) Don’t be arrogant!
3) Smile (I know…novel concept)
4) Dress nicely (the first thing people see is how you dress)
Tips for Preparing for a College Visit:
1) Research the college. In today’s technological age it is simple to type in the name of a college or university into a basic search engine and find out some cool things about every college in the country. Prospective student-athletes should have a basic understanding of the college they are visiting. This will reflect that the potential student-athlete is seriously interested in the school.
2) Have a basic understanding of your academic interests. I have had several conversations with student-athletes that were interested physical therapy but had no clue that new laws require PT’s to have a PhD. One time I even said, “Wow…you must really like sciences such as biology, anatomy, and physiology.” The potential student-athlete responded by saying, “Oh no…I hate science classes.” C’mon people. You don’t have to know what major you are going to declare on your visit, however, if prospects are going to mention a major they should have a basic understanding of that major.
3) Try to ask at least one question. Asking a question makes it seem like the recruit really wants to learn more about the school, team, or coach. This helps build a stronger relationship with the coach, athletes, and admissions. You do not have to come up with a question that is going to impress everyone. Most coaches are simply impressed if you just ask a question (any question). Most of the time when I ask potential student-athletes if they have any questions they shrug their shoulders, ball up, and say “no.” It is not an impressive sight (trust me). Two simple questions are:
A) What do you think is the best thing about attending college X?
B) How does academic advising work at university X?
4) Be prepared to talk about yourself. The idea of the visit is to give the coaches, athletes, and other people on campus, a chance to get to know the recruit. This is the recruit’s opportunity to show who they really are as a person. If the prospect clams up they will leave campus and the coaches and athletes will not have learned anything new about them. I get more intrigued with recruits as I find out more about their lives. I honestly feel that hearing stories about other family members, learning about their life experiences, and other information makes it easier to connect with an individual.
My advice is to prepare your athletes for college visits. Help them understand that this experience is an opportunity to build relationships that can influence admissions and scholarship decisions. Teenagers do not always realize they are being judged during these visits. They are…so let them know.
Please follow me on Twitter: @MarcMangiacotti
P.S. An ideal way to succeed as a coach is to learn from other successful coaches. You can do just that at the Complete Track and Field Summer Clinic, held at Harvard University:
Marc Mangiacotti is an assistant track coach at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA.