Commentary

Well-planned campus visits are key to making the right college connection

Aspirations to play college soccer and hopes of a scholarship are apt to influence many decisions young players and their parents make. We've relayed some of the common questions we've heard from parents to Lisa Lavelle, president of The Sport Source, which has spent more than 20 years in college counseling for student-athletes.

By Lisa Lavelle

We're starting to plan college visits for our high school children. They'd like to play soccer. What advance work should they be doing ahead of arriving on a campus?

For many students who are entering their junior and senior year of high school -- campus visits are essential to making the right college connection.

Some student-athletes receive letters of interest from college coaches or invitations to make "official campus visits." Others might be taking an "unofficial" campus visit. Either way -- always be prepared.

Here are a few tips to help everyone make the most of their campus visits:

* Start by creating a personal player resume/profile -- and think of this like you were applying for a job.

* Contact admissions and schedule your campus tour.

* Most universities will interview you -- and they will ask questions -- so dress neatly and be prepared

* While on campus -- check out the library, dorm rooms, student center -- and pick up campus newspapers along with area community papers to see what's going on!

* Read the school mission, vision and values. You can impress admissions if you are prepared and ask questions about admissions, including early admissions.

* Find out if your test scores and standings will allow them to award you academic scholarships and or merit money. If you don't ask, you will never know.

* Be sure to always check out the alumni pages -- you just might be surprised who attended the college you are visiting!

* Check out the dean of the academic departments that interest you. If you have time and if it's possible, sit in on a lecture and learn how the class is taught.

Never just show up. Always make an appointment with the athletic department/soccer coach/staff. Be sure to send your player resume/profile in advance if you are making an unofficial campus visit, and let them know the day/date/time you will be on campus and coordinate this with the admissions office too. This will keep you on track and the school in the know -- besides it shows you have done your homework and are ready to explore all the aspects the school has to offer you.

Next -- for your meeting with the coaching staff -- read the coach's bio and always check out the current roster of players and size yourself up.

For parents. You have questions to ask and you deserve answers. Consider asking about mandatory study hall for soccer players. I am sure your child will not think to ask this one. You should also ask about tutors for athletes, and campus security. You will want to know your child is safe at night and what the ramifications are when rules are broken.

Follow up is essential. Always take a minute to send a personal thank-you note!

FURTHER READING: The College Process: Be Prepared, Proactive and Persistent

(Lisa Lavelle is President of The Sport Source, which has been connecting kids to college opportunities since 1989. For more information on The Sport Source’s Official Athletic College Guides, tools, and resources, go to www.TheSportSource.com.)

2 comments about "Well-planned campus visits are key to making the right college connection".
  1. Kent James, July 29, 2015 at 11:34 a.m.

    Many coaches seem to conduct "camps" for aspiring HS players, where they charge $400 (or more) for 2 or 3 days of playing. The coaches get to evaluate the players who are considering attending the school (though that is not stated outright). This is quite the racket (essentially paying for a tryout, which I'm pretty sure is against NCAA policy), but if you're interested in a school, you should probably check out what camps the coach offers. On the plus side, the players at the camps are usually pretty good, so your child can have fun, but if you're looking at more than one school, it can become expensive (and logistically difficult). Some camps have coaches from a number of schools there, which makes a lot more sense.

  2. Ric Fonseca, July 31, 2015 at 5:30 p.m.

    Good point Ment James: Do also research local competitive clubs that run "college tryout camps" for not just their club members but for unsuspecting parents and players, that also charge a pretty penny, ooops, pretty dollars, for a session what may or not have come college coaches present. I know for a fact about three or four clubs in the LA Westside that also make their club members attend a mandatory session, as well as "pre-season" camps. As for the NCAA looking negatively at these tryouts, I remember only too well, back a few years ago, when my son's team (North Hollywood Jets) played in the well-known Surf Cup Tournament in northern San Diego, when I spotted my good friend Colin Lindores (I believe he was then at Stanford, we chatted and asked about my son's team, and the first question that he asked if any or many of the players were juniors, and if so, due to NCAA regs he couldn't even speak to them, singly or collectively, but he could observe from a distance. Needless to say, as Kent points out, parents AND players MUST be VERY careful and not get caught up in the hundreds of "tryout" schemes being run all over the country, especially those that "profess" to have an inside track to XYZ or ABC college coach.

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