On Monday I had the chance to work with a senior high school thrower that is looking to take his talents to the Division I level beginning in the fall of 2019. It was my first day working with him for a practice session. He drove down to our throwing compound for a private training session before starting his senior season of high school.
During our session, I asked him how the collegiate recruiting process was going. He told me that he intends to major in Engineering, in which he told me that it has narrowed down his search quite a bit. He said that it has made it difficult because he only has a few choices of colleges that he is really interested in. He takes it as a negative situation. I interpreted it as a positive situation. Let me explain.
First, he already has his mind set on what he wants to major it—Engineering. For some, you may look at it as a negative because there may only be a handful of Division I programs with Engineering majors and tracks. I see this as a positive because it can help bring focus to the process. Rather than being inundated with 50-100 opportunities for college, you may now have it already narrowed down to 25. It makes it much easier to navigate the process because there will be less information to process compared to wanting to become a teacher, in which most Division I college programs have an Education major and track. Narrowing down your search from 200, as compared to 50.
Second, you will be able to learn more about a few colleges, rather than trying to learn a little bit about a lot of colleges. Depending on your situation, you may only want to attend a college in which you will never see snow. That eliminates many more colleges for you. Now we may have gone from 25 to 15 (using our hypothetical example).
Third, now that we have 15 colleges, your next thoughts may be focused on financial aid and scholarship opportunities. In state vs. out of state tuition can be drastically different, especially if you are looking at the difference between a private and state school. For this example, let’s say that financial aid isn’t going to be a problem for you, but you want to attend a private school. You have now narrowed your search down to 8 schools. Now you can really dig in and focus on these schools over the course of your senior season.
Fourth, you will be able to make official visits to most of the remaining 8 schools. This will be a great time to get to know; your future teammates, event coach, head coach, athletic training staff, professors, other athletes, and general body students. Do not be afraid to ask a lot of questions. This is your opportunity to interview everyone else involved in the process. Specific to the Engineering program you are interested in, a few questions to ask would be about internship opportunities, job placement within 3 or 6 or 9 months of graduation, graduate programs, how alumni have fared in the job market, and length of program (4-year undergrad to 1 year of grad school or 6-year program to graduate with a Master’s degree). I’m not familiar with all the ins and outs of Engineering programs, and this might not be much of an issue for you, in regards to how long it may take you graduate with your undergrad and/or graduate degree. However, if you receive financial aid for only the time you are an athlete, aid might not be there when you decide to enroll in a graduate program right away. You may have to pay full tuition if you do not receive other types of aid.
Lastly, when you have narrowed your search down to 2 or 3 schools, a question to ask yourself would be, “If I decide not to throw anymore, will I still be happy at XYZ University located on the East or West Coast XXX miles away from my family?” This may be the farthest thing from your mind at this point in the process, but it is an important one. Perhaps the decision is yours to stay or not, but what if something happens in which you lose your aid, get cut from the team, or suffer an injury? It may be obvious to ask questions about this to some, but not all. I’m sure I missed a couple of other things to take into consideration when navigating the college search process, especially in the case of someone that wants to earn a degree in Engineering.
My hope for high school athletes and their families is to navigate the college recruiting process as best as possible with as much information provided to them by the college they are interested in attending, as well as the information provided to them by their high school guidance counselor office and/or coaching staff. Unfortunately, it may just come down to a number’s game. If you throw the discus 160’ and the shot 60’ and the weight 60’ and the hammer 60m we’ll find a place for you. I’ve heard some pretty crazy recruiting stories from athletes I’ve coached in the past. I’m not an expert in navigating the whole process, however I did see how my parents worked with colleges that were interested in my brother. I also know that you never say yes to the first offer. As I mentioned previously, it is ok to get two or three colleges to compete for your services. It is not ok, however, to lie to any of the colleges either. I’ll get more into that with a follow-up post to the craziest things I’ve heard and been involved with in the recruiting process.
What did I miss in the recruiting process?
My best - Charles
Dr. Charles Infurna
Charles Infurna, Ed.D., is the owner and lead coach of Forza Athletics Track Club. Dr. Infurna has coached National Record Holders, National Champions, All-Americans, and Conference Champions at the Post-Collegiate, Collegiate, and High School level.