So your top college hasn't come knocking on your door. That doesn't mean you're doomed never to enter its hallowed halls. Prospective student-athletes can wire themselves for success to maximize their chances of gaining admission to their top college choice.
Below are five things you can do to have a shot at attending the school of your dreams.
Begin With a Dream
My mantra for the students and families I have the privilege of advising is "victory begins with a dream." Every effort requires a starting point, and I believe we should never deny ourselves the opportunity to reach high, especially in the college search.
That said, maintaining a grounded approach when lining up potential college options is equally important. I suggest identifying three groups of colleges for your recruiting plan: Dream, Likely and Back-Up.
Define Long-Term Goals
As an adviser, I like to begin by envisioning "the end game" and working backward to define specific goals. The initial phase of the college search might appear a bit daunting, but the trick is to begin big and then chisel away at a plan to simplify it.
Look long-term when defining your goals. Although the athletic component will be exciting during your four-year college experience, ask: "Where do I see myself in 40 years?" Keep the academic component in the vanguard to position yourself for years of success beyond college.
Use a Team Approach
A team approach maximizes efficiency and minimizes individual pressure and stress. Forming a group of trustworthy individuals who assume specific roles during the process will increase your chances of grabbing the brass ring. The team should include:
• Team Coach
• Club Coach
• Guidance Counselor/College Adviser
• Personal Mentor/Adviser
With a team approach, responsibility for effectively executing your recruiting plan is distributed among the various team members. All assignments should be clearly spelled out, and communication among team members should be frequent and consistent. This will help streamline the plan and avoid mistakes and confusion, which can contribute to unclear thinking, misdirection and potentially poor choices.
You have envisioned your dream and defined your goals. Your team is in place, and you are anxious to get started. Not so fast! A key component of the college search is to establish specific timelines that you will hold yourself to in executing your plan.
Without strict adherence to timelines, you reduce your chances of hitting your targets. Deadlines can get missed, raising the stress level. Start broad and develop long-term to-do lists with calendar dates up to a year. From there you can break your timelines into more detailed formats that include monthly and weekly targets.
Unless you are a blue chip athlete whom every college coach wants, you will need a recruiting plan that helps you rise above your competition. Various character components can assist you, but one that stands out above the rest is desire.
When it comes to the recruiting process, most college coaches make comprehensive assessments. Coaches always look beyond athletic and academic achievements at intangible factors that define a great recruit. The successful college recruiter looks for self-aware, independent prospects who bring strong character to the table.
At this point, you have your college recruiting vehicle put together and are ready to take it out for a spin. Desire is the fuel that moves the vehicle forward.
In the final analysis, recruiting success depends on a number of factors, but having a dream, defining your goals, forming a team, establishing timelines and showing your deep desire to play your sport will push you to the top.
Tom Kovic is the founder and president of Victory Collegiate Consulting, where he advises families and prospective student-athletes in developing and executing personal plans for the college search. Kovic has delivered nearly 300 presentations and seminars to more than 3,500 participants. He is the author of Reaching for Excellence, an educational guide to college athletics recruiting, and he is a regular contributor to numerous educational and sports publications.
Prior to founding his own company, Kovic coached gymnastics at The University of Pennsylvania. He has coached 34 individual Ivy League Champions, three ECAC athletes of the year and more than 160 NCAA Academic All-Americans. He was named ECAC Coach of the Year twice.
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