As you go through the recruiting process, one of the most intimidating aspects may be your unofficial visit to campus. It is often your first face to face meeting with the coaching staff, and in many cases, your future teammates as well. However, your visit is also a great opportunity for you to get a sense of the school you are considering, a feel for the lacrosse program, and whether or not you may be a good fit at that institution.
Depending on the school and where you are in the recruiting process, a campus visit may include a meeting with the coach, meeting current players, an Admissions tour or interview, a tour of athletic facilities, observing a team event, or sitting in on a class. Your meeting with the coach is likely to be the most stressful part of the visit for you. Following the five steps listed below can make the process less daunting for you and your family.
- Plan Your Visit. Don’t expect to just show up on campus and have the coach drop everything in order to meet with you. Call, email, or work through your club or high school coach ahead of time to schedule your visit on a date that is mutually convenient for you and the coaching staff. Try to schedule your visit on a date when classes are in session so that you get an accurate feel of the campus vibe, and also on a day when the lacrosse team is practicing or has a workout scheduled so you can see them in action. Visiting on “game day” may be more fun for you, but the coaches may not have time for a sit down meeting with you and your parents. Make sure you know exactly what your visit will entail and what the coaching staff will arrange for you, and what you need to schedule for yourself (this will vary from program to program, so don’t be afraid to ask).
- Make a Good First Impression. Dress appropriately (if you’re not sure what to wear, ask your parents or your high school coach). Ask any college coach and they will be able to tell you stories of prospects who showed up in what appeared to be pajamas, or as if they were on their way to the beach or a night club. Think of your visit as a job interview and put your best foot forward. Be on time for your meeting. If you get there early, take a walk around campus. Don’t show up for a 1:00 pm meeting at 12:30 pm and interrupt the coach’s lunch. Have a good handshake ready. Look the coach in the eye when introducing yourself and don’t offer the “limp fish” handshake. Make sure to also introduce your parents.
- Be prepared for your meeting. Do your research before you arrive on campus. Spend some time online familiarizing yourself with the coaching staff, the recent history of the program, and general information about the institution. Have a list of questions ready – it’s ok to write them down – and ask similar questions during all your visits so that you will be able to compare your options later. Think about the questions you may be asked and be ready to answer them (things like what you are thinking about studying, what is important to you as you go through the recruiting process, and what you want to gain form your college experience). Don’t let your parents answer for you, but be prepared for them to brag about you a bit.
- Let Your Personality Show. I know it’s hard, but relax and be yourself. Coaches genuinely want to get to know the real you, because it allows them to gauge whether you may fit in with their current players or other prospects they are recruiting. If you’re nervous, admit it; coaches will respect your honesty. Be confident about who you are and what you think you can offer the school as a prospective student-athlete. Show that you have a sense of humor, and are mature enough to be going through this process.
- Finish Strong and Follow Up. Make sure you end your meeting with a clear understanding of the next step(s) in the recruiting process for you and the coach. Discuss your recruiting timeline with the coaches so that you are on the same page. Make sure you are aware of any “action items” you need to complete (send a video, submit a transcript, or apply by a certain date). Within 24 hours of the meeting, make sure to send an email thanking the coaches for their time and reiterating what your next steps are in the process. Follow up by doing anything you agreed to (send that video!) so that the coach can see you are responsible and that you hold yourself accountable.
Take advantage of your campus visit as an opportunity to show the coach who you are and what you can offer them as a prospective player on their team. But remember that your visit is also an opportunity for you to evaluate a school you are considering. You will go on some visits and will walk away unimpressed. On other visits you will leave the campus wanting to call the coach to commit before you even make it back to the interstate (don’t do this, no matter how tempting it may be). Taking visits to multiple schools allows you to figure out what your options are and determine what is most important to you as you navigate the recruiting process.