Sports are one of the most popular activities for high school students, and many of these athletes will go on to play sports in college. We have a whole guide to explain the process of athletic recruiting, but many students wonder what their chances are in the process. How likely are you to get recruited, or play sports in college at all?
The answer, as with many aspects of the college admissions process, is complicated. Your individual situation will greatly impact your odds of playing in college. In this article, we’ll explore the recruiting process, how schools decide which students to recruit, and what impacts your chances of getting recruited.
The Factors Which Impact Recruitment
There are myriad factors which impact your chances of recruitment, so we’ll cover the most important here. Not all of these have the same degree of impact, so we’ve listed them in order of importance.
Demonstrable, Consistent Skill
Colleges want to recruit good athletes. This isn’t a huge surprise, but what counts as a good athlete isn’t just whoever takes first place at each competition. Coaches look for highly skilled athletes who are also consistent with their efforts and successes.
Consistency is key here; getting a single good result is not enough. Consistently getting solid results is much more beneficial than winning it all once, with no other results to speak of. The latter is a Disney movie, the former an athlete who shows promise. In any case, your natural talents and skills are the most important part of the recruiting process.
Some of this is innate, but you can get a good sense of how you measure up by talking about it with your coaches. In general, competing and doing well at a statewide level is the minimum to say you have a chance. This differs greatly by sport, however, which brings us to the second aspect.
The sport you play has a major impact on your odds of recruitment. Football is one of the largest college sports, with some schools recruiting dozens of players each year. Football is also one of the most widely played sports in high school, which means competition for these spots is intense.
More specialized sports such as squash or fencing are far less popular, with far fewer students playing them. Fewer colleges recruit for these sports as well, so your odds of recruitment in these sports are very college-specific. In either case, the sport you play will greatly impact your chances of getting recruited.
Each sport has its own unique quirks, and these will change your odds of admission. For instance, left-handed pitchers in baseball are far more prevalent than left-handed people generally; thus left-handed pitchers often have better odds of recruitment. Sports with position-specific requirements and weight classes will also factor in these needs when recruiting. Sometimes colleges will need more linebackers, or heavyweight wrestlers, or coxswains. These needs are very sport and year specific but should be taken into consideration.
What You Can Do
If getting recruited is your goal, the single best thing you can do is talk to coaches. Your coach in high school has (probably) had a great deal of experience with the sport and the recruiting process, and will know which specific factors will impact your own recruiting process.
In addition to your high school coaches, you should reach out to coaches at various colleges. Calling and emailing are both effective. The goal of this communication is to learn what that college is specifically looking for and to let the coach know about your athletic talents and interest in their program.
The top .1% of athletes in the most popular sports will have coaches and programs coming to them, but most students will need to do this kind of legwork themselves. You should also look into the current athletes at a school. By comparing their high school records and athletic achievements, you will better understand your own chances of recruitment by a program.
Some companies offer to create flashy highlight reel videos of your athletic achievements, for a steep fee of course. While these are quite impressive to look at, most colleges don’t care much. Your stat line alone is usually enough for coaches to get a sense of your accomplishments and talents. These videos are a waste of money, and we recommend not investing in their creation.
In spite of stereotypes, your academic record still matters, often quite a lot, for your athletic prospects. The NCAA has athletic standards which all college athletes must meet, and many colleges have their own stricter requirements for athletes. These requirements often cover both your grades and standardized test scores.
It is true that athletes will have some extra leeway with their academic records than other students who apply to a college, having a stellar academic record can also increase your chances. The NCAA has requirements not just for individual students, but for team averages. Thus if your grades are incredibly good, you can win ties in the recruiting process, as your achievement will help keep the team average high.
Finally, even if you are recruited by a college, you still have to go through the standard application process. This is especially important for DIII schools, which do not have official recruitment, and where the athletics department has almost no sway with admissions officers.
There are thousands of college athletes recruited every year, but there are hundreds of thousands of students participating in sports in high schools across the country. Sports are a worthwhile activity, both for their own sake and for college admissions. That said, you should be realistic about your chances of recruitment. We hope this article has helped clarify the inner workings of athletic recruitment and shown you how to impact your own admissions chances.
College admissions is a challenging process generally, and athletic recruitment adds yet another layer of complexity to the whole affair. If you want guidance with your own recruitment process or any other aspect of admissions, schedule a free consultation with us. We have a depth of experience helping students get into the schools of their dreams, and are always happy to hear from you.