Five College Recruiting Steps for the High School Junior Athlete in the First Half of Junior Year

For a high school athlete who wants to play college sports, junior year is the most important year. The top 5% of athletes may already know where they're going because colleges have been watching them for a while. But most good high school athletes who have the talent to play in college will have to do some work to get noticed, and junior year is when all of the groundwork is laid. Because there is so much you need to know, this article series is going to be split into three articles for the first half and the second half of junior year, and the summer between junior and senior year.

Here are five things you should start doing during the first half of junior year:


Gets the wheels in motion to prepare for your ACT or SAT testing.

Some kids take study prep courses through their school, some hire tutors to work with them individually or in a group, and some buy test preparation books and work through them on their own. Of course, some kids do nothing. Don't be one of them. The effort you put into getting decent standardized test scores will really pay off as it will open up options at many good academic schools that won't consider you otherwise.

If you're disciplined and like to work on your own, get a test prep book at the library or a bookstore, and work through it at your own pace. If you are easily distracted and need the support of your peer group for this activity, put a group together and find a tutor.


Take the ACT or SAT for the first time in the fall or winter of junior year.

You can take these tests as often as they're offered as long as you're willing to pay the registration fee. The ACT allows you to choose which scores you send out and report only your best score. The SAT sends scores from every time you took the test so you can't pick and choose which scores to send. Some schools calculate your final standardized test score by allowing you to submit the best subscale scores from different administrations of the same test. For example, you can send the science grade from the fall version and the math grade from the winter version.

The advantage of taking it early the first time is that you will have more time to improve on subsequent tests. Count on taking the test at least twice and for some kids, three times. Your choice of which test to take depends on what schools you're interested in. Most schools accept both but look on the websites of the schools you're interested in to make sure you're taking all of the tests you need.


Continue researching and assembling your college list.

If you've already started researching colleges, you should continue with the goal that your list will be complete by the end of this school year. There may be coaches who contact you and you may choose to add their schools to the list, but your list should come from your research on the schools that best fit your academic, athletic, social, and general college life criteria. Don't fall into the trap of only considering schools that contact you first. They may not be the right fit for you.

If you haven't started researching colleges yet, now is the time to start. Use one of the college search tools you can find online ( and have good ones) to develop a preliminary list of schools that might be good for you. Aim for a broad list of 30-50 at this stage.


Initiate contact with coaches at the schools you're most interested in.

You don't need to do anything big at this point. Just say hi, let them know a little about you, let them know why you're interested in their program, and let them know you will send them more information about you at the end of your season.


Pull together your stats, resume, and video if you play a fall sport.

If the sport you're interested in getting recruited for is a fall sport, you will be done in November and you can start pulling together all of the pieces you will need for coach contact. Find templates for resumes and cover letters in my book, Put Me In Coach ( The second article in this series will provide more specific details for marketing yourself to coaches. Ask your high school coach for end-of-season stats. Hopefully, you will have access to videotape from either your high school team, your parents, or someone you've hired to shoot it for you. Start thinking about how you're going to edit it—it's a complicated process if you plan to do it yourself.