National Collegiate Athletic Association
NCAA Eligibility Center
Guide for the Student-Athlete
The Selection Process Used by Colleges
Open vs. Selective Admission:
Open: establishes a set of minimal standards to ensure that each student admitted is capable of doing college-level work (i.e. a high school diploma is a common standard)
Selective: use of an eligibility index to decide what students to admit. This is often a combination of your high school grade point average and the ACT or SAT score.
Many selective schools will also use a combination of the following factors in making a decision:
Letters of recommendation
Essay (take this seriously if it is required)
"Legs" - Who do you know at the university
What to look for in a college:
Location - consider climate, the size of the population (urban/rural), and the proximity of the campus to family, friends and the area where you would like to eventually begin your career.
Size of The Student Body
Cost of Education
Liberal Arts vs. Career Oriented Focus
Does it offer courses that coincide with your area of interest?
As An Athlete consider:
If the coaches, especially the head coach, don't have a good feeling about them now, they probably won't later.
Is the coach interested in you as an athlete or as a student-athlete?
If an athletic scholarship is offered, remember that athletic grants are given on a one-year renewable basis.
The level of competition. There are three levels: NCAA 3 divisions (IA, IAA), II, III. NAIA and the NJCAA. The difference in these divisions is in the number of allowable scholarships. Division III schools can't give scholarships. You must ask yourself the question, "Do I want to be a big fish in a little pond or a little fish in a big pond?"
Graduation rate of athletes.
Questions To Ask Recruiters
Ask what proportion of athletes playing on the past three years' teams in your sport actually graduated.
Ask whether the college has a counseling or tutoring program for athletes that are conducted by trained personnel other than coaches.
Ask about housing arrangements. Ask whether you are required to live in an athletic dorm.
Ask what connection each recruiter has to the school. It is better to talk to a coach and best to talk to the head coach.
Ask whether your athletic scholarship will also cover summer courses.
Ask what position they are recruiting you for and how many others are they bringing in to play this spot? Does a senior currently hold the position?
Do they have a JV program?
What kind of commitment are you expected to make to the sport in the off-season? (weight-training, etc.)
What kind of discipline problems have they dealt with during the past year?
How do they discipline players?
Do they test players for drug use?
Ask them to explain their red-shirt program.
Will I be red-shirted?
What happens to the scholarship if I am injured and can't play anymore?
What type of medical service do they provide for the athlete on a day-to-day basis?
What kind of insurance does the college provide?
Are grant-in-aids over and above the scholarship or are they included in the total package?
Football: What type of offense will they be using? Defense?
Describe a player's daily schedule during the season.
Are job opportunities available during the off-season or summer?
How To Generate An Offer
Draw up a preliminary list of colleges that meet the criteria that are important to you as to location, size, overall cost, type of academic environment, academic programs and sports opportunities.
Find out the name of the head coach in your sport. There is a book in the guidance office with this information.
Set up a meeting with the Saint Xavier head coach of your sport. Show him your list and ask his opinion on (1) if he feels you possess the talent and skills to play college sports (2) if yes, which level of competition would be best (Div. I, II, III) (3) would he help you contact these schools? If it looks encouraging at this point then:
Start with the top three to five schools on the list then write a letter to the head coach in your sport at each school (Your coach may offer to do this). In the letter, describe several important reasons why you want to come to his school. Explain that you are interested in competing on the team and are interested in what sources of financial aid are available for athletes. Don't be shy about telling the coach about your strengths and related statistics. Include copies of newspaper write-ups and action photos if you have them. Films or videos of you in competition might be helpful to sell yourself to the coach. There is no shame in that.
Wait to see which coaches show an interest in you.
Ask your present or former coach to write a letter on your behalf to those coaches who show an interest in you. The letter should stress how much of an asset you have been to your present squad and would be on a college team. Letters from more than one coach is better. Try to get an impartial judge to write a letter when possible. For example, pro scouts are a good source for baseball.
Send the coach a schedule for the current season. Keep the coach informed of your progress. During your senior year, set up a meeting with the coach if possible and ask him if he thinks you have a future in their program. If the answer seems positive, begin to explore such questions as scholarship, aid, etc.
Strategy For Making A Good Decision
Limit your choices (5-8)
Consult guidance counselors
Check college catalogs
Talk with graduates and alumni athletes
Make a campus visit
Sit in on some classes
Talk to the coach.