Q. When do I start my search?
The beginning of your Junior year is the best time to start. This is the last year you will have to better your times to show coaches. You will need to take your SATs and/or ACTs so you have scores available to pass along to coaches. You will need to speak to your guidance counselor to find out when your GPA and class rank will be available. Also, you should speak to your coach and see if he has any suggestions as to colleges you might want to look into.
NOTE: BE SURE TO TAKE YOUR SATs AT LEAST ONCE DURING YOUR JUNIOR YEAR BECAUSE COLLEGE COACHES WILL WANT AND NEED THIS INFORMATION.
If there is one school that interests you, do your research. Check out their website, ask around to other swimmers if they have had any experiences with this school and swim program. Remember, you need to choose the school, not the swim program.
Q. Are there websites available to help me find a college that fits me?
Q. What is the difference between Division I, Division II and Division III?
Both Division I and Divsion II schools may offer athletic money and have specific academic and SAT requirements. You can find these requirements www.ncaa.org. Divison III does not offer athletic monies and has no specific academic and SAT requirements, except of course, what each individual school requires. For the official NCAA explanation of the difference between divisions click here
Q. I am interested in a Division I or II school, anything else I should know?
There are many rules and regulations involved with these two divisions. First, be sure to go to www.ncaa.org as this website can answer most, if not all, of your quetions about many things. Second, you must register at www.ncaaclearinghouse.netto receive a Ceritificate of Amateur Status should you end up visiting or attending a school in either of these divisions. The process is begun in your Junior year and will be completed upon their processing of your final transcript after graduation from high school. Before you can go on to an official visit to a school in either division, you must begin this process.
Q. Will college coaches contact me?
Maybe. You may receive letters from Division III colleges at any point and from Division I and II colleges during your Junior year. Coaches cannot speak to you in person or by telephone until July 1st between your Junior and Senior years.
Q. Can I contact a coach?
Absolutely! Do not hesitate to send the coach an e-mail with all of your best times listed. You never know what a coach is looking for. If you have a strong academic background be sure to include this as well. Whatever you think may catch the coach’s attention. If you do not hear back from the coach of a school you are interested in you should mail him a letter so you are sure your e-mail did not get passed over. Most college athletic sites have a Recruiting Questionnaire on them, print it out, complete it and send it with your letter. If you do not hear from them still, speak to your club coach and see if he will make a follow-up call on your behalf.
Q. When should I start visiting colleges?
A good time to start is in the spring of your Junior year. NCAA Championships have concluded and coaches can now start to look towards the next year’s recruits. If you are planning on making a visit let the coach know. While he cannot talk to you he can talk to your parents, arrange a tour and maybe have you meet some team members. If at all possible visit a school while it is in session as this will allow you to get a feel for the campus.
Q. What is the difference between an "unofficial" and "official" visit?
A simple explanation is that an unofficial visit is not paid for by the college and you can make unlimited numbers of these to any school regardless of what division and an official visit is one paid for by the school. For Division I and II you are limited to five official visits in total. For all three divisions you may only may only make one official visit per school. More specific information may be found at www.ncaa.org.
Q. Am I fast enough to swim in college?
There are a lot of colleges out there and coaches need to fill a lot of lanes. If you are interested in a school contact the coach with your best times, academic background and any other information you that might help before you visit the school and see if he will meet with you.
Q. What does "early decision: and "early action" mean?
Q. When do I have to make my final decision?
If you plan on attending a Division I or Division II school and are being offered athletic aid you must sign a National Letter of Intent. There are two signing periods during your Senior year in November and April. The exact dates can be found at www.ncaa.org. If you are going Division III or are not going to receive athletic aid then your college of choice must receive your deposit by May 1st of your Senior year. (credit: to NJSwim for researching and posting many of these Q & A’s for the swimming community. )
(a special thank you to NJ Swimming for compiling these Q & A's)