The very best resource for student-athletes is the NCAA Eligibility Center website. This site explains the basics of the NCAA and the eligibility requirements necessary to play a sport in college. Additionally, it provides many resources including the GPA/Test Score Sliding Scale, recruiting rules by sport, and a wealth of other information.
Students can also look to a local high school or club coach who has assisted previous student-athletes through the process. Students may reach out to a college coach, though he will likely not be as transparent as a high school or club coach.
A good first step for any student-athlete, is to assemble a sports resume and video clips. This can be done via a website or a YouTube video. It is critical that the video be a click away, as college coaches may not have the time to hunt for it. Secondly, the student-athlete must register with the NCAA Eligibility Center, which includes sending in SAT/ACT test scores (testing center code 9999) and official high school transcripts.
Once these steps have been completed, a student can move forward in the process. A student can research colleges, select schools of interest, and reach out to the coaches or alternatively attend a college where the coaches sought out/recruited the student. Quite honestly, it is most effective to work both options. Regardless, it is critical to visit the campuses and realize the differences between schools and programs. Even if a college is selected due to a coach, it is important for the school to be a good fit as the student will be enrolled for four years.
The student-athlete must understand the different divisions:
- Division I and Division II sports schools will award scholarships, and the student must be registered with the NCAA Eligibility Center.
- Division III sports schools are generally small schools for the scholar/athlete. Division III schools cannot give scholarship money for playing on a team; however, a student can be awarded financial aid or other academic scholarships. A student does not need to register with the NCAA for Division III sports.
The goal of this process is for the student-athlete to receive a letter of intent and then hopefully an early acceptance to the school and athletic program of choice!