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Managing the Recruiting Process


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Managing the Application Process

ACT and SAT Test Dates


Standardized Test Dates: 




As an underclassman, student-athletes should be taking prep courses and practice SATs and ACTs to best prepare. By junior year, an athlete should have already registered for and taken the SAT and/or ACT. Please note that one may take the ACT up to 12 times and the SAT as many times as they want. 

Registering with the NCAA or NAIA Eligibility Center


If a student-athlete is hoping to compete at a D1 or D2 level, they should register for a Certification Account with the NCAA Eligibility Center and/or the NAIA Eligibility Center by the summer of their junior year. In addition, student-athletes who will play at the D3 level can create a profile page in the NCAA Eligibility Center to receive all relevant updates. The NCAA Eligibility Center looks at an athlete’s high school core courses, core GPA, and ACT/SAT to determine their eligibility.

When Should a Student-Athlete Apply for College?

Applying to college is typically done the summer before a student-athlete’s senior year, and they should have a target list of schools narrowed down. There is no limit on the number of schools where a student can apply, but the process is lengthy and time consuming for each application. Every college also has different deadlines; thus, it is important to stay organized and a good practice is creating a spreadsheet or listing all relevant dates on a calendar. The Common Application is a good resource to send many schools the same information at once.

There are three application choices: early decision, rolling decision, and regular decision. Each option has different deadlines and criteria. Most students choose regular decision to give them sufficient time to submit a strong application and ultimately make a final decision. Please note that early decision applications are typically due around November 1, while regular decision applications are usually not due until January 1.


Early Action and Early Decision


An early action or early decision application is less competitive than a regular application. However, these are due at earlier stages in the application process, so it most benefits those who have narrowed down their choices. The main difference between the two applications is that an early decision application is binding, and the applicant must attend the college if accepted. Alternatively, an early action application is not binding and offers an applicant an earlier decision regarding their application.

Who Should Apply as an Early Decision Applicant?


There are many benefits to receiving an early decision such as savings from having to submit multiple applications, reduced stress, and more time to prepare for going to college. Further, early decision applicants often have a higher chance of getting in. However, for those hoping to improve their marks and are unsure about where to attend college, early action might not be their most viable option.

The College Application Essay

College essays are a critical part of the application process, which often times determine whether an applicant will be accepted or not. Below are some tips on how to write memorable and polished essays:

  • Choose the ‘right’ essay topic. An applicant should choose an essay topic that they are passionate about because they can go into more depth, and it is far more likely to stick with the reader.

  • Watch Grammar. It is imperative that a college essay is well written. An applicant should take sufficient time editing their work, as well as have multiple people look over it.

  • Be authentic. The college essay is a chance for an applicant to stand out. They should write something that is authentic to them and differentiates themselves from fellow applicants.

  • Seek Assistance. Guidance counselors and college advisors are good resources to ace the college essay.

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The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Since few student-athletes are given full-ride scholarships and even zero at the D3 level, financial aid is a good supplement for scholarship dollars. To receive financial aid, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Students (FAFSA) form. The following information is needed to fill out this form:

  • Social security number

  • Alien registration number (for non-US citizens)

  • Most recent federal income tax returns, W-2s and other financial records

  • Bank statements and record of investments

  • Records of untaxed income

  • FSA ID to electronically sign

Three deadlines to be aware of when submitting the FAFSA:

  • College Deadline: October 1 of senior year

  • State Deadline: This deadline varies by state, but most are priority deadlines, which suggests that athletes should submit it as soon as possible to receive ‘priority’ consideration.

  • Federal Deadline: June 30 of freshman year of college

NCAA Amateurism Certificate


If an athlete plans to play at a D1 or D2 institution, they must request their final amateurism certificate starting April 1 of their senior year. Certain requirements will need to be met to compete and receive a scholarship with the NCAA. Athletes will most likely be registered with the NCAA Eligibility Center during their junior year; however, their information must be updated during their senior year of high school to be eligible to play at the college level.

Proof of High School Graduation


A student-athlete must prove to the NCAA that they graduated high school. The most common method for an athlete to provide them with this information is by sending their transcripts (with a graduation date) to the NCAA Eligibility Center


Informing the Coach After an Application Submission


A student-athlete should inform a college coach once they have applied to their school. As a result, the coach might be able to flag their application with the admissions office. This could help a student-athlete stand out in the application process. Furthermore, in general, coaches want to be involved during the process, and it is a common practice to let them know.

A College Coach's Responsibilities During the Admissions Process

Most notable ways college coaches are involved during the admissions process:


  • "The Application”: College coaches typically have input on recruits being admitted. That being said, a coach’s influence is limited to a degree, which is even more limited amongst recruits trying to get into top academic institutions without the grades.

  • Secure Financial Aid: Financial aid is crucial for student-athletes playing in programs with limited budgets or D3 schools where athletic scholarships are not offered. College coaches can actively communicate with representatives in their college to provide recruits with financial assistance in forms of academic scholarship, need-based aid, etc.

  • Dismissing Recruits Failing to Meet Standard Requirements: If a recruit may not meet academic or athletic standards to gain admission on their own terms, coaches might not pursue them. Thus, athletes should have a strong understanding of whether they meet requirements at a certain institution before adding it to their target list of schools.

Acceptance Letter:


Admission to a college is not official until one receives an acceptance letter. It is imperative that a student-athlete lets the college know that they intend on coming by accepting it before the deadline; otherwise, their spot will be given to someone else.

Getting Recruited After the Application Deadline

Many coaches, especially those at D3 and NAIA institutions, recruit athletes far into their senior year. If a coach is recruiting a player past the application deadline, there is still a chance that the coach may still be able to have an athlete’s application considered if their roster is not filled.

Next Section: Cost of Attendance

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