Courtesy: Elizabeth Wickham
College recruiting can be an exhilarating and exciting experience. That is if your child is getting emails and interest from the schools he or she wants to attend. But what happens when the phone doesn’t ring? What if they haven’t been invited to an official visit? Maybe they’ve emailed a coach and asked what times are needed and the coach sends back a list of walk-on times—and those times are faster than your child’s best times. What can you do as a parent to help?
Here are a few things we can do during the ups and downs of college recruiting:
The college admissions process can be nerve-racking with or without athletics thrown in the mix. We can be the person our child turns to when they’re feeling insecure or need someone to talk to. This is a great time to listen and be there for our kids.
Do your homework.
If you and your child have done a lot of research and are realistic about what division and conference is a good fit, then there should be interest by coaches. Have your child fill out online athlete questionnaires and be proactive. If they don’t hear back from a team they’ve contacted, they can reach out and make sure the coach knows they’re interested. It’s a busy time for coaches and kids can fall through the cracks.
Cast a wider net.
Maybe the schools your swimmer has selected aren’t a good fit. Many schools get faster each year and are looking for more stars. Or, your child is a backstroker and they already have more backstrokers than they need in the freshman class. As a parent, do more research and discuss a few more schools that fit your child as a student and swimmer.
Consider being a walk-on
If your child is interested in a school but not quite fast enough to be recruited, they can ask the coach about walk-ons. If they’re hard workers, have a good attitude and earn good grades, they can be a big benefit to a team. Many walk-ons improve, make the travel team and earn scholarships later on.
Keep an open mind.
Maybe the schools your child has dreamed of aren’t interested. Then keep an open mind and explore other options. Maybe a school they weren’t interested in before would be a great choice. The experience of being on a team adds so much to the college experience. If your child wants to swim in college, then encourage them to pursue their dreams.
What advice do you have for a parent if their child doesn’t hear back from coaches?
Elizabeth Wickham volunteered for 14 years on her kids’ club team as board member, fundraiser, newsletter editor and “Mrs. meet manager.” She’s a writer with a bachelor of arts degree in editorial journalism from the University of Washington with a long career in public relations, marketing and advertising. Her stories have appeared in newspapers and magazines including the Los Angeles Times, Orange County Parenting and Ladybug. You can read more parenting tips on her blog.