There are many important things for a student-athlete to consider when narrowing down schools in their college search. Students must consider academics, athletics, location, finances and size of school when deciding where they would best fit in. Meeting students and faculty on visits or on recruiting trips to a school helps significantly in this decision-making process. In many ways, student-athletes have an advantage because they are often able to visit schools on recruiting trips, and learn more about the school directly from coaches and other student-athletes.
It is important for a student-athlete to contact the schools that they are interested in. Many athletes believe that a college is not interested if the coach does not contact them, but this is not true. Coaches do contact potential athletes that they are interested in, but they are not able to contact all athletes that would be a good fit for their program. Most coaches rely on championship meets, such as Sectionals and Junior Nationals, student questionnaires, and professional recruiting services to find information about prospective athletes. Even with these recruiting tools, coaches are still not able to recruit everyone that they would like to. Therefore, it is very important for an athlete to contact the coach and express interest in the school and athletic program.
Due to NCAA scholarship limits, college coaches look closely at a student’s academic ability and academic performance when recruiting them. Some Division I and Division II schools have many available scholarships, while others do not have any. Division III schools do not offer athletic scholarships. The majority of swimmers in every division receive financial aid through academic related scholarships, grants and student loans, and not through athletic scholarships.
Athletic Scholarship: An athletic scholarship is a one-year contract between you and a Division I or Division II institution. A coach cannot cancel or reduce your scholarship on the basis of your performance while under contract. A coach can reduce or cancel a scholarship if a student becomes ineligible to compete, behaves inappropriately, or quits the team. An athlete must be notified in writing and provided with an opportunity for a hearing if his/her scholarship is not being renewed.
Each student athlete scholarship is reviewed annually. Some college programs offer and renew an athletic scholarship for the first 2-3 years of college and then ask the student to pay full tuition for the remainder of their college career. It is important, from a financial stand point, to find out if athletes are asked to do this at the institution you are interested in.
The National Letter of Intent is administered by the Collegiate Commissioners Association. When signing this letter, you agree to attend the institution with which you signed for one academic year. This is in exchange for the institution awarding financial aid, including athletics aid, for one academic year.
Collegiate Swimming and Recruiting Links:
College Swimming 101
Five Important College Considerations:
NCAA Prospective Student Athlete - Eligibility Center
NCAA: National Collegiate Athletic Organization