By Tom Kovic
Organization is an important component in the college search for athletes and completing a college bound assessment for what you would like to achieve is a great way to start! Think of the assessment as the seed you want to plant to grow your recruiting effort. What grows will be determined by how you cultivate it from start to finish.
Looking at the “big picture” can be a tall task for most high school athletes, but if you can begin with the end game in mind and work backwards in developing your personal plan for success, you will most likely run into the college assessment near the beginning of the checklist.
I use a generic assessment with each of the prospects I advise and I have to tell you, it works beautifully. The questions may be the same, but the answers are very different for each athlete and exciting for me to read. Simply defined, the assessment is a tool that should provide prospects and families with a broad aim to the direction their college quest will take.
As an advisor for athletes, my assessment questions are equally loaded on the academic and athletic side, with additional emphasis on the social and cultural component. Basically, I’m trying to get a feel about the college experience my boys and girls are currently aiming for based on academic strength, athletic level, geographic location and undergraduate makeup.
My initial assessment goal is simple: Get the kids “thinking for themselves.” Not only is this a necessary skill to determine potential college choices for my families, college coaches pick up on kids that have a grasp on the recruiting process. Remember, there are 3 important qualities college coaches are looking for in a recruit…Good students, strong athletes and self aware individuals. Below are 10 questions I feel will “fuel the tank” and kick start the college search:
- Describe in 2-3 sentences how you envision the college experience best unfolding for you?
- Are you looking for a school environment that is Urban, Rural, or College Town?
- How far are you willing to travel from home to attend college?
- How important is the athletics “component” of the college experience? Are you looking for a true “student-athlete” experience?
- Are you looking for a college environment that will “push you” or allow you to “explore” independent options?
- Are you looking for a small, medium or large undergraduate population?
- What area of educational studies are you leaning toward?
- What excites you most about the college experience?
- What worries you most?
- Are you willing to take personal responsibility for every independent decision you make as part of the college experience?
The answers to the assessment questions should now provide the prospect and family with a general idea about the type of institution they are aiming toward. Now it’s time to draw up an initial list of colleges!
I use the Naviance network, which is an awesome tool that allows me, based on the assessment information the prospect filled in, to determine an initial grouping of schools that potentially match with the prospect. From here I simply plug pertinent college recruiting information (website, coaches contact information etc.) into an Excel spreadsheet for easy reference. Now the prospect is ready to accomplish 2 tasks: Investigate the college list and communicate directly with the college coaches.
Ebb and Flow
As families navigate the college recruiting process, it is natural to experience highs and lows, moments of exhilaration and frustration and everything in between. You learn to develop tough skin quickly!
As prospects become more familiar with the recruiting process; communicate more effectively with the college coaches and develop a resourceful educational base of information about the college search, the “ships heading” will naturally change. Slightly at first, but it will surely change! A simple “road trip” to a college on your “C” list can become an eye opening experience where you connected strongly with the Coach, with campus and grow a greater appreciation for the overall experience. I believe we need to be open to each new opportunity in the college search and meet that opportunity head on.
Defining a “starting point” in the college search for athletes will not only initiate direction to the project, it gives it purpose and the initial assessment is a great way to assist in creating “lift-off.”
Tom Kovic is a former Division I college coach and President of Victory Collegiate Consulting, where he provides individual advisement for families on college recruiting. Tom is the author of “Reaching for Excellence” An educational guide for college athletics recruiting and “NCAA Rules Simplified.” For further information visit: http://www.victoryrecruiting.com.