The past few weeks and months you may have seen or heard about a prospective student and family “committing” to play sports at a university of their choice. In many cases this has come after days, weeks, months and years of training, instruction, advisement, studying and competition in which a college or university staffer/coach makes the choice to extend a financial aid “offer” to the prospective student-athlete and his/her family.
These “offers” can come in various forms. For the larger schools these “offers” may come in a “full-ride” which is the equivalent of paying for tuition, room, board, books and cost of attendance per semester. At say the NCAA Division II, NAIA or even many of the “Olympic sports” at the NCAA Division I level these “offers” come in the forms of partial scholarships, thus paying for only part of the tuition, room, board or books. Like say how the “Salary Cap” works in the NFL as an example. Either way, these scholarships can be significant and thus the reason why they are celebrated so much in the media, websites, school assemblies and of course Twitter.
The biggest questions that I get as an advisor to clubs, teams and families is the “how”, the “what” and the “when”. Let me explain.
- HOW: How does this “offer” process work?
- WHAT: What is the likelihood of getting a Division I scholarship?
- WHEN: When does this process happen?
Fair questions, with very complicated answers honestly. So, let’s drill into this a little further.
The biggest factor to remember is that these “offers” are based on several factors including:
- Position needs at the school
- Measurables by the prospective student-athlete
- Number of scholarships or aid available
- Academic requirements and success
- Communication & Targeting
Candidly these college coach’s livelihood is on the line, so they want the very best players they can find. They review countless hours of film, survey thousands of coaches, hire outside services to provide additional data and early evaluations on players and of course host many prospective student-athletes and families to try to align them to their school and vice-versa. Having been on that side of the fence, I can tell you that recruiting for these colleges is a 24/7/365 job and never underestimate the homework these folks are doing to find and recruit the best players.
As an example, recent data says that roughly 2% of prospects in High School will even get an opportunity to be recruited by a Division I Football Program. Similar data applies to nearly every sport in roughly every state in the country. This makes the evaluation process so very important and to most parents and prospective student-athletes is where it gets complicated as many of them don’t understand how players are truly evaluated. The key to the process here is to make sure you have a solid evaluation done by a trusted professional. If they have the training and know what they are doing, honestly, they can pick out and give proper evaluations within 10-20 plays max. If not, you could be wasting your time chasing an “offer” that logistically won’t happen for you regardless of your stats and accolades. Read what one family had to say about the process of evaluation and recruiting game plan structure.
This is the million-dollar question and honestly, I have seen “offers” happen very early (as early as 8th grade), I have seen “offers” extended on National Signing DAY and I have seen “offers” come as late as months after the National Signing Dates. I would love to have a crystal ball to know when these “offers” would consistently happen but that just not practical. By rule I would say that many them will happen after the junior season of play in nearly every sport. There are some exceptions to that rule, but by and large the clear majority of them will happen in the spring/summer before the senior season.
So, the key here, for most folks is the be patient during the process. If you are a freshman, sophomore or junior and don’t have an offer, it’s okay, the process is still happening and lots of things can happen, even if it slips until your senior year you have time! But, if you don’t understand the process or are unsure of the process, then consult with your coaches or an advisor. The other side of these offers then is how quickly folks need to react and commit. That however has been recently documented in this Sports Illustrated article which offers insights into this process more clearly. The bottom-line is offers when come when the timing is right for the college or university. They normally offer 10x the number of open scholarships and even with that enlarged number of offers, the process for many is still confusing and a mystery.
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