We love our team of experts at Annapolis College Consulting! One of those experts is Dave Morris, founder of College Athletic Advisor. Dave brings experience coaching in NCAA Division I, II, and III; as well as the NAIA and the NJCAA. With over two decades of experience as an educator, coach, and consultant, Dave brings deep experience to our team and great advice to our athletes. With the national sighing period open for most sports, we thought it was a good time to hear from our recruiting expert.
The national signing period is open in most sports… with basketball and football early singing periods coming up fast and it seems like a good time to talk about the question a lot of families want to ask at the beginning of the recruiting process: what level can I play at in college? Then there is the reverse: the “D1 or bust” mentality.
“What’s my level?” is a great question, and having a firm, clear answer would make the rest of the process easier. The problem is, there is NEVER a firm, clear answer. At all. Every coach, every program, at every level essentially has a selection committee of one. The head coach of that program is building a community and it’s up to that person to decide whether a particular prospect fits their program’s needs at that moment. Students get offered by various programs at various levels because those programs are looking for what THAT prospective student brings to the table, and as a student or family, you will often never know why a coach passed or offered. Sometimes it is a straight talent evaluation – which depending on the sport is often incredibly superficial. Always, it is based on how the coach sees their program developing and trying to “complete the puzzle” building a community (even if they do not or cannot articulate that).
Another problem with focusing on “level” is that students may miss really considering the type of school that is best for them academically, socially, and culturally. For many students, anonymous, large lectures are not their best settings for learning or building the relationships and connections that can help them be successful in life beyond the classroom. As I tell clients, if you don’t want to be in a big lecture class, then maybe that big state university is not the right fit for you.
Okay. But if I’m not going to the school I see on TV every day, what options are out there?
Glad you asked. There are about 2,000 colleges in the United States and Canada that sponsor intercollegiate athletics programs. Most prospective students, high school coaches and even high school counselors can only name a small fraction of them, let alone provide real insight into the depth and breadth of options. Luckily, we have you covered! Our ever-growing list of “Programs That Inspire” highlights athletic programs at NCAA Division 2, Division 3, and NAIA institutions where students are getting incredible experiences athletically, academically, and socially. Even if you don’t see your sport, these schools are great places to start expanding your search and the list is continually updated.
What makes these programs potentially great options?
It starts with leadership. In the athletic program and in terms of the overall educational experience. Students in these programs not only compete at an elite level in their sport, they also benefit from outstanding academic and social environments, developing real relationships with faculty and peers that can bend the arc of their lives in a more positive direction. These programs are not a perfect fit for everyone, but they could be the right place for YOU.
Okay, so how do I figure out which of these programs fits me?
Well, one way is to reach out to College Athletic Advisor. We help clients determine which programs are great matches for them and our 5A College Search Model outlines how we advise prospective student-athletes to demonstrate to these coaches that they will be the best fit for THE PROGRAM. If you are doing this on your own, the best place to start is to reach out to the coaches at the programs that interest you. If you want to support developing the tools to support your outreach, our Ultimate Toolkit course is an online, on demand, affordable program that you can use as a guidebook. The videos and resources can help you effectively communicate with coaches and guide you in creating your own video channel, highlight videos that really impact your recruiting process,and an academic/athletic resume that lets a coach easily evaluate your fit for their program.
As always, if you are looking for individualized or institutional consulting help that puts you ahead in our new post-pandemic world, check out our services here! You can make an initial appointment through the link on our homepage! School administrators and counselors access our free resources, appointments, and programs for school collaboration here.
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