Freshman Year – The biggest thing you can make sure you do as a freshman is study, study, study. This is the most important year academically for any student trying to get into colleges. Freshman year is when you set a solid foundation for your grades, and your time-management and study skills. These are important things to a college coach because he/she is recruiting you as a Student-Athlete with student coming first. They want to make sure that you can do well and stay eligible. In fact the NCAA has a policy that if a team does not meet the certain strict guidelines each year of academic standards, they will reduce the number of scholarships that the school can offer. If you struggle at home in a structured environment (with mom and dad), how are you going to do with a less structured environment (without supervision)? You have to have a good start and finish strong.
Some other things for you to be doing throughout your freshman year are to have meetings with your counselor and do it every 3-4 months. Explore possible community service opportunities. Start a college file and consider your “ideal” college program, develop a list of possible college choices, and write a letter to a few college coaches. You should also set up some evaluation meetings with your coaches club and high school. You also need to make sure to identify NCAA “Core Courses” and set a track to get them done within your high school career.
Sophomore Year – Once you’ve started on the right track things become easier and it’s more about keeping up on certain things. Start your sophomore year off with another meeting with your counselor and set an academic plan for the year. This plan should include PSAT & PACT testing.
You should complete practice admission applications and continue to assemble college information and definitely attend “College Night” at high school to gather brochures and try to identify 30 college programs you would like to go to. With your continued meetings with counselors make sure to discuss financial aid publications, applications, and options about how to apply for it.
With regards to your “ideal” college list, start sending contact information to college coaches and include some information in a cover letter and player profile. If your team is going to a tournament in their area, you can invite them to come and watch you play. It is never too early to contact a coach.
Don’t forget to continue working hard on your academics and push yourself on the field.
Junior Year – Now you are halfway through with high school, and you still need to keep working hard. Meet again with your counselor and discuss the year including October and November SAT & ACT tests. If needed take them again in May.
You should look at your college list and narrow it from 30 down to 15-20. Very important now if you haven’t started is to contact the college coaches from your list and send them an updated player resume and cover letter, include any event schedule (showcase tournaments, camps, etc.). You should try to take some un-official visits to some of these schools to see the campus and meet the coach as well as admissions people. This will help you to narrow the schools down even further.
Start filling out applications and review them with your counselor. Get some recommendation letters from teachers, coaches, and your counselor. Make sure you are still on track with your academic plans and check in with the NCAA Clearinghouse. Make sure you are registered and moving ahead correctly.
Don’t forget to keep up on the grades…
Senior Year – Twelve months to go… At the beginning you should finalize your college applications and any essay topics. Make sure to get someone to review and help edit your essay and continue to collect letters of recommendation from your teachers, coaches, and counselor. Narrow your list of colleges even further to five you will apply to and make sure to know the application deadline dates. Notify your counselor and the college coach that you have sent in the application. You should also gather up tax information and obtain all financial aid forms (National and from schools). They are due ASAP after January 1st.
College coaches can begin to contact you after July 1st between Junior and senior year. You should arrange an official college visit and interview with the admissions department. National Letter of Intent Signing Day is in February so you will need to be finalizing your visits and conversations with college coaches before then.
It is very important at the end of the year to notify colleges applied to, but not attending and notify your counselor of your final choice. Make sure to have final grades, proof of graduation, etc. sent to the college you have chosen.