How to Effectively Utilize Your College Visit!
*How To Effectively Utilize Your College Visit: Questions To Ask As Student-Athletes *
Sep 12, 2017
(The original article appeared on MileSplit.com and has been edited to more accurately reflect the soccer recruiting process and timeline)
Your college visits will determine where you attend school and which team you compete for. With the average person now applying to up to 10 or more schools you will want to make the most of your time spent on each campus.
College visits are the single most effective way to learn as much as you can about the schools and programs you are considering.
Each school you visit will have their own specific methods of introducing you to their programs. Depending on the time of year (in season is really busy for soccer coaches) some schools will provide more or less programming for you on your visit. Some schools will have you attend an official admissions campus tour while others will have their student-athletes show you around. Regardless of the specific agenda for your visit, you can expect the same basic itinerary: tour the campus and athletic facilities, meet the team, speak with the coaches, and explore the community.
Make no mistake — coaches view your visit as one of the most important elements of your recruitment. You will be shown the most impressive buildings, eat at the best spots, stay in one of the nicer dorm rooms or hotels, and be told repeatedly how wonderful the campus and program are. This is the coach’s job, and you can be assured they will put their best foot forward. It is your job to see beyond the tree-lined quad and smiling faces and determine if this school and program is a good fit for you.
The areas in which I encourage you to take a closer look will impact your quality of life as a student-athlete. Beyond speaking to the coaches about training methodologies, program philosophy, and goals of the program, learn as much as you are able from the current-student athletes.
To do so, I suggest preparing a series of questions that you can ask off the cuff. Ask current team members questions in an informal manner when eating dinner, on your way to a movie etc. etc. Create a specific list of questions based on what is most important to you. Remember that you’re not visiting; you’re there to decide where you will spend four years of college.
Here are some questions to ask:
How much time is required to commute back and forth to and from training sites?
When does the soccer team actually have access to the facility they are showing you — particularly shared indoor turf fields that the football team also uses?
SPORTS MEDICINE SUPPORT
Is there an athletic trainer assigned specifically to the team?
Do you have access to the training room on the weekends, even after early Sunday gym sessions or runs?
What type of preventive measures are used — ice baths, NormaTec, etc.?
Do they offer adequate support with physical therapists, chiropractors, and massage therapists?
Are study hall hours required of all student-athletes?
What type of access is there to tutors?
What type of walk-in support is provided?
Do athletes get preferential treatment when enrolling for classes?
What time of the day do you practice?
Is there an athletic trainer on-site during practice?
Are nutritional needs adequately addressed on site — water and post-workout recovery foods/drinks?
What criteria are used to determine travel squads?
Is there a full-time staff member in the area of professional development specifically within the athletic department?
How supportive are the alumni in helping athletes find internships?
Will someone assist you in creating a resume and letter of application?
What are they doing to assist you with finding a job upon graduation?
What does a typical Saturday night consist of?
Does the team party and drink?
Do team members live together?
Where does the majority of the team live — residence halls or off-campus?
What is the food like — are there adequate healthy food options?
Remember, you are using your official visits to determine where you will study and play soccer for four years. Use this limited time wisely. It is important to understand that the coaching staff and team members are evaluating you as well. Enjoy yourself and get to know as many people as you can, knowing that when you leave campus the coach will ask the team about their perceptions of you.
Leave a positive impression, and remember: do not be afraid to ask questions!
Willy Wood boasts 26 highly successful years of NCAA Division I head coaching experience, two decades of which were spent at Columbia University.