Contributor Rick Paine is an expert on the college recruiting process. He is also the Director of Swimming at American College Connection (ACC).
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Up until a month ago, you had a pretty normal life as a high school sophomore who swims. Your biggest concern was what to wear to school tomorrow and what the main set might be at practice.
As of May 1, all of that changed. In case you are not aware, the NCAA changed its recruiting rules again and the new rules went into effect May 1. Division I college coaches can now start contacting recruits after their sophomore year beginning June 15. They are allowed to call, email and text recruits.
So, as a 15-16 year old sophomore, you thought you had a lot more time before you had to start thinking about college and what you wanted to be when you grow up.
Welcome to the new age of recruiting.
If you haven’t already, you must send your information to the college coaches right away. Don’t wait for them to find you. The coaches are not allowed to respond to any correspondence from sophomores until June 15.
Between now and June 15 you should sit down and talk with your parents about college. You want to be on the same page as them regarding how much they can afford to invest in your first year of college (knowing that you can always earn more scholarship in your second year). For many swimmers, the first year is the most expensive.
You need to start thinking about what you might like to major in. This is tough because most 15-16 year olds don’t have a clue to what they want to study. We suggest determining what you DON’T want to study. This helps narrow down the list.
Have a talk with your coach so you can outline your goals. You will want to use these goals as a way to sell your potential to the coaches. Your coach knows you best, so they can help you understand what to look for in a college coach.
Be prepared to be offered official recruiting visits. They can begin on August 1 after your sophomore year. We recommend not committing to an official visit unless you have a good idea if your parents can afford the school. Coaches are not allowed to make verbal offers until August 1. One of your parents needs to plan on accompanying you on your visits. Schools are allowed to pay for your parent’s housing while on the visit, but they can’t pay for transportation.
Practice your phone skills. A phone call might be your first introduction to a college coach. You want to be ready.
We recommend using a home phone for accepting recruiting calls. Only give your cell number out to select coaches. Being at home in a quiet place with your notes in front of you is the best way to take a recruiting call from a coach.
Another way to separate yourself from all the other recruits is to personalize your voice message on your phone. Instead of, “You’ve reached the voice mailbox for 719-203-4565” change it to, “You’ve reached Suzy Smith’s cell phone.”
Clean up your social media posts and make sure there is nothing controversial on there. Coaches will check on social media to find out info on recruits.
Be sure to respond to emails right away. Coaches will be quick to remove you from their recruiting list if they don’t hear back from you.
Good luck and enjoy the ride. You will never be this popular again.