I just found out that one of my athletes will be playing soccer in college.  She is pumped!  She has a dream just like a lot of other young athletes and that is to play in college.  She will get to realize her dream, but how are you supposed to realize your dream of earning a scholarship for college?

The fact of the matter is that college coaches will already have the best of the best on their radar.  If you are that good, then don’t worry.  They will find you.

But, there are only so many of those athletes and there are a lot of scholarships left over.  More than likely you need to have your athlete get in line for one of those scholarships.

If that is where you fall, then here is the best way to get recruited and earn your scholarship:

  • If you really want to play sports in college then you need to register yourself with the NCAA. It is a free account, but if you are exploring options for D1 or D2 then you will need to pay a small fee.  This should be done around the end of your sophomore year.  The NCAA and colleges need to know you are taking the core courses, what your test scores are, and that you are academically eligible among other things.
  • With that out of the way, it might be nice to figure out what colleges appeal to you. Make a big list and take in all considerations: big or small school, near or far away from home, what majors interest you and what schools specialize in those majors, etc.  Ideally, you want to open up your recruiting process that way.  Then, if other colleges start to hear about you and send you information, you can study those schools at that time.
  • All the schools you are interested in will have a place on their website for an athlete recruiting questionnaire. Fill out that questionnaire and submit it.  Depending on the sport they will have all sorts of information you can plug in and give you an idea what the college coaches are looking for.  For some sports, like track or swimming, they even have standards to meet to be considered as a walk-on or athletic aid.  If you aren’t at those standards yet, get some outside training to put you in a position to achieve those standards.
  • Once that is done, look up the coach’s email address and send the coach an email to let him/her know that you have submitted the questionnaire and interested in the college. The coach might not respond back, but you’ve started the process.  In your email, you can put some of your highlights and if you have social media accounts (we will talk about that here in a sec), add those in.
  • If you do social media, even if you do not tell coaches about them, they will look for you. Make sure you post items that are on the up and up.  Coaches look at that.  If you act a fool on social media, they will assume you will act a fool in college and that might work against you.  Twitter is probably the most popular for college coaches and then maybe Instagram.  Find the coaches social media accounts and follow those yourself hoping that they will return the favor.  If you have video of your exploits, post them on your account.  You have to be your own marketing guru.  If you have a Youtube channel, add to it as well.
  • There are a lot of different showcases for athletes for all sports. Even big ones that tout all the college coaches will be there.  I wouldn’t necessarily hit a ton of those.  Maybe a few.  What you want to hit are the camps at the schools you are interested in.  Contact the coach and say you will be attending and you’d like to meet that coach at some point.  Then make sure you go out of your way to say hi.  A lot of schools don’t have these massive scouting departments, so if you do your due diligence and a little forward motivation it could take you a long way.
  • Get good grades. That will help out a lot and a coach won’t have to worry about your eligibility in college.  Plus, you might be able to get some academic aid as well as athletic aid.
  • If you have a good relationship with your coach, see if he/she can put in a good word for you. It isn’t going to hurt anything.
  • Finally, BALL OUT!! Do what you do in your games, on the field, etc., and when you have some good contests, blast them out on social media, and email the coach.

There are probably a few other details that you could do to attract a scholarship, but those are the biggies.  The biggest thing is not to be too humble.  If you aren’t one of the elite prospects, then you need to do a lot of self-promotion.  And in the end, if it gets you an education that will be partially or fully paid for, then you did a great job!