January 8, 2019
One of the most frequently asked questions we get at Headfirst Honor Roll Camps is something like: As a 2020 graduate, what should I be doing right now to get recruited to play college softball? At the high level, junior year is where your on-field development, hard work in the classroom and recruiting efforts all peak – and when quality exposure is absolutely crucial.
For high-academic colleges like those at Headfirst, the recruiting process takes shape and gains momentum in the summer for rising seniors – this coming summer, the class of 2020. By this time, student-athletes have three complete years of their high school transcript, a solid baseline of on-field development that allows coaches to project them as players and many have a baseline for their SAT or ACT score, as well.
It’s important to note that there is not just one way to navigate the recruiting process. Everyone’s path will be unique and depend on the college list of the student-athlete. To help you reach the ultimate goal of finding the best fit at the next level, here are a few tips that can help you position yourself for success in high-academic recruiting.
Prepare for your college visits:
If you haven’t done so already, many of you will begin to visit campuses during your junior year. It’s important to research each school that interests you to find out if it is the right fit. Doing the research before you get on campus not only makes sure that you’re spending your time and resources effectively and efficiently, but also that you’re well-informed when you speak with a coach on campus – a key indicator of legitimate interest that coaches are looking for from prospective student-athletes.
Questions & Research:
Before You Visit:
|Headfirst “pro tip”: to build the list of qualities that you’re looking for in your dream college experience, visit 5-10 schools that you know you’re not interested in.
“What? Why?” Yes, definitely counter-intuitive advice.
By visiting 5-10 schools that you know you aren’t interested in – they’re too close to home, they’re too far away, etc. – and forcing yourself to identify something that you really, really like about that school, you can compile a list of qualities independent of any individual school, and then use that list to match up against when you vet a college.
If you’ve always dreamed of going to NYU, but haven’t critically considered if an urban campus is the right fit for you, you’ll be unable to separate the heart-of-the-city campus from your dreams of going to NYU when you visit the school. So, to know whether that really is the right setting, go visit George Washington University (for example) first. If you walk away from the GWU tour saying to yourself “GW isn’t the right school – but I loved the feeling of being in the middle of the city!” then you’re on the right track. If you repeat this a couple more times, a list of qualities starts to emerge (e.g.: large school, urban campus, close to home) – and from there, you can quickly assess whether a school could be a good fit as soon as it comes onto your radar, or as soon as a coach shows interest.
Focus on your academics:
Junior year can often be one of the most challenging years in the classroom, as you must balance your workload in more advanced classes with your preparation for standardized tests. As you prepare for your college visits and the upcoming softball season, remember to continue to prioritize your grades. Junior year is a key one in the classroom, as it rounds out the transcript that you’ll be sending to college coaches to get their assessment, and for them to get a read on your application from admissions. By showing that you’ve selected challenging classes and that you’re working hard to succeed, you’ll put your best foot forward when it comes to submitting your application.
Now is the time to invest in your standardized test prep, as well. Although this is only a small piece of the admissions puzzle – and also not one to wait on to start the recruiting process – it’s one that can give coaches immediate insight into where you’re likely to fall with their admissions team through the recruiting process. Putting a good standardized test score in front of a coach is more immediately actionable and recognizable – each school will weight standardized testing differently in admissions, but all college coaches can get an immediate idea of where you may fall in their recruiting plans from an academic standpoint.
|Headfirst “pro tip”: many schools – and a growing number each year – are offering applicants the option of not submitting standardized test scores. This is known as “test optional admissions”, and some excellent schools are headed this direction – check them out!|
Prepare for the upcoming season and plan your summer recruiting:
Junior year is also a crucial time in your recruiting process. This is an important season in your development as a player – and the key time to gain exposure from college coaches. Through the spring, continue your on-field development – get stronger, more physical, refine your fundamentals to grow as a player.
Now is the time to plan out your summer playing and recruiting schedule to balance your team schedule and tournaments with individual showcases. It’s important to maximize your exposure opportunities, but also to maximize your exposure in front of the right group of coaches.
This summer is an absolutely crucial time in your recruiting process – and is the right time to gain your opportunities for targeted, quality exposure to the college programs that are on your list to highlight yourself as a student and athlete, and to make your way up recruiting boards.
Join the thousands of Headfirst alumni who are pursuing their dreams at the college level by finding this targeted, quality exposure and unparalleled access directly to college coaches at Headfirst this summer.