Six College Recruiting Steps for the High School Junior Athlete in the Second Half of Junior Year

This is the second of three articles in a series about steps you need to take for college recruiting, during the all-important junior year of high school. If you aren't being heavily recruited by the second half of junior year, you need to take the initiative to get on the radar screens of coaches at the programs you're interested in.

Take some comfort in knowing that most kids are in this situation. Only a very small percentage of athletes get heavily recruited early in high school. College coaches are all going after the same kids. Once those kids make up their minds, there are lots of spots for the next tier. If you're a next tier kid, you need to have your information ready to go when that time comes.

Here are six things you should start doing during the second half of junior year:


Repeat the ACT or SAT to bring your scores up.

Unless you ace these tests the first time you take them, you should take them at least one more time. Most kids improve at least a point or two, if for no other reason than they now know what to expect and may have done some test preparation in between.

Make sure you indicate what schools you want the testing services to send your scores to. You can have them automatically sent out to a few schools for free at the time you take the test, or if you'd rather wait to see how you score first, you can pay to have them sent out later.


Finish your college list.

You should be finished with your list by the end of junior year. Some people say you should contact 100 coaches, others say 20 is plenty. Use your intuition and know that the more schools you contact, the better your chances of finding a good fit and a coach who is interested in what you have to offer. On the other hand, it's easy to get overwhelmed with this process so choose a manageable number.

When your list is fully narrowed down, you will only have about 5-7 schools that you are seriously considering and will want to visit. Your task between now and the fall of senior year will be to narrow from the 20-100 on your initial list, to the 5-7 that will make the final cut.


Fill out the online athletic questionnaire for every school on your list.

This is an easy way to initiate contact with the schools you're interested in. Go to the athletic page on the school's website and click on your specific sport. There will be a link to an athletic questionnaire. Go ahead and fill it out and send it in. It will probably get you on a mailing list but it's an easy way to get your feet wet. Understand that lots and lots of kids will be sending these in so don't get your hopes up of anything spectacular happening as a result, but it will start the ball rolling.


Register with the NCAA Eligibility Center (formerly NCAA Clearinghouse).

Go online to and register. You will have to fill out some information and pay $50. When your end of junior year grades are in is probably a good time to make sure you start this process. Have your high school guidance counselor send in a transcript of your final junior year grades. When you graduate, you will have to send another official transcript from your school. You should also indicate the Clearinghouse as one of the locations where you want your standardized test scores to go. When you are registering for these tests and looking up the college codes for the schools you want your scores to go to, the Eligibility Center is 9999.

Note that you only need to register with the Clearinghouse if you plan on playing for the NCAA in Divisions I and II. Division III recruits and NAIA and NJCAA (junior college) recruits do not need to register.


Figure out how you're going to get your information out to coaches and do it.

By the end of junior year, you need to let coaches know you're out there and you need to give them enough information about you so they can decide if they're interested. Please refer to my article, College Recruiting Tactics for High School Athletes that Coaches Will Notice, for in-depth suggestions on how to do this.


Visit some colleges on spring break.

If you can talk your parents into it, you should try to visit some colleges on spring break. They don't even necessarily need to be ones that you're interested in although it's a much better use of your time if they are. Your objective at this point is to try and pinpoint the college characteristics that you like and don't like so you can go back to your list and start to narrow down.

If you pick two or three schools, one large, one small, and three different environments (urban, suburban, rural), those criteria alone will be enough to help you start narrowing down. It's helpful to do this before you start sending your information out to coaches so you can streamline that process.