FAC Parents and Swimmers, Welcome to the College Planning Guide


We encourage all FAC swimmers to look over this page and the attachments. The keys to a successful search are: to get an early start, define objectives, have a methodology, cast a wide net, be organized, and stay positive!  


Dear FAC Parent,

You and your child have embarked on a journey through four years of high school. It is an expedition full of twists and turns and if your final destination is college admissions, it is best to begin this journey knowing what to expect en route.

The college admission process doesn’t start in the fall of your child’s senior year. For many kids, it begins when they walk into class on the first day of school their freshman year. The classes they choose, the activities they participate in, the grades they receive, and their participation in sports will all be a part of their college application. Along the way, many factors may need to be considered. The ultimate decision should be a family decision made in conjunction with the coaches (if your child is swimming in college). Hopefully, this guide will help you and your child be more prepared for the admission’s process when their senior year arrives.

This letter is addressed to you, the swimmer’s parents, because you need to be a part of this process. Choosing a college will be one of the most important decisions of your child’s young life and he/she will need your guidance. Not only will your child be choosing a college to attend, but they will also be selecting the city or area they will be living in for four to five years! In addition, this choice may have an affect on the job and career path that your child pursues after college. And when those applications start coming in with their Part I’s and Part II’s and letters from coaches, and essays and teacher recommendations, and various deadlines, (all this on top of intense school work, SAT’s, ACT’s, and the normal swim schedule), they will also need a secretary, a counselor, and a friend – YOU!

College application time is both exciting and stressful. You as parents can share in the excitement, and perhaps, help ease some of the stress. You must understand the big picture, your role (see “The Parents’ Role”), your coaches’ role, and the steps that need to be completed along the way.

 Best of Luck! 


Car Analogy for Athletes (Don Heidary, OA)

If we told you that when you graduated from high school you were going to get a brand new car (may already be true!) you would most likely be very excited.  But which one; an SUV, a sports car, a sedan, a convertible, an economy car?  The only thing you have to do is first, a little soul searching, and second, a little research.  What is the best fit for you?  Big, small, safe, inexpensive, great sound system, side air bags, two seats, four seats, storage, red, white, lime green, will you be going off-road?  Since you will be driving this car for four to five years with no trade-ins, let’s be sure we find the right one.  So take some time and THINK!  Ask friends, look around, go to websites, order information packets, talk to dealers – be an information sponge!  Since there are so many to choose from let’s come up with a list of about ten that meet your preferences and objectives.  Next rank the cars in terms of best overall “package”. What seems to have the best fit?  What makes sense for you for the next four years?

 Once you rank your cars, you need go from information mode to test-drive mode.  It is time to get serious.  Go to the lot.  Take it for a spin.  Talk to the salespeople.  Ask A LOT of questions.  Once you get to this level of understanding you may begin changing your list.  You may find out that the SUV you had your heart set on gets only ten miles to the gallon (and doesn’t fit the budget).  And do not stop the process just because the first car you drive, you “fall in love with”.  More often than not, it won’t be the car you end up driving.

 Also, please remember, it is your parents that “taught” you how to “drive” and most likely will be paying for this “car”.  Seek their insight and guidance first.  While you may know a great deal, your parents have been driving a lot longer than you and have the objectivity that you may not have.  They probably know you better than you know yourself and more than anyone want to see you in the right car.

 Remember, not too many people that get a new car are unhappy!  So it is with college, the vast majority are happy wherever they end up.  So turn the stress and anxiety into an exciting adventure! Yes, it may be that your first choice is not available, but remember you have nine other cars on the list and hundreds on the lot.  And any one of those is a lot better than no car at all!  Best of luck and drive safely!



The attached will help to think of your search by "filtering" schools through three general areas - academic, athletic, general. For each of these three areas, define the main (two to four) characteristics that are important in a school/program. The "general" category is things like geography/location, size, culture, urban/rural, etc.


Getting Started -

The NCAA Division 1 Swimming Recruiting Calendar allows for official contact between colleges coaches and swimmers beginning June 15 after Sophomore year. Official recruiting trips may begin August 1 after Sophomore year (June 15 for Division 2). If your swimmer intends (or hopes) to swim at the Division 1 or Division 2 level, you'll need to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center. We suggest that our swimmers utilize the College Swimming Website to assist in the college recruiting process. College Swimming offers the most current information available. By using College Swimming you'll be able to:

  • Get a sense of your ranking, both in the State of California and in the nation (swimmers are ranked the summer after their freshman year in high school)
  • Learn which of your events are most valuable to colleges
  • See current times posted by swimmers at all colleges (Division 1, 2 and 3, NAIA, NJCAA & CCCAA)
  • See test score range for admissions

You'll be able search and sort the colleges by:

  • Location and size
  • Academics and campus environment
  • Cost
  • Swimming division
  • Event
  • Your prospective position on the college team

To sign up for CollegeSwimming:

  • Click "Register" in the top right of the home screen
  • Click "Swimmers - Get Started"
  • Enter your email address & password & create a free account
  • You'll receive a confirmation email - click on the link to activate your account
  • Enter your name, birth date, etc as requested
  • Then click "Upgrade" (in red)
  • You'll be taken to a page called "Varsity Account" - you can compare the different plans but we highly recommend that our swimmers register for the Varsity Account because it provides the most options.
  • The cost of a Lifetime Varsity Account is $19.95  and we suggest you purchase this for all of your swimmers who hope to swim in college.

Once you've registered:

  • Claim yourself in the corresponding graduation class
  • Update your profile/add a photo if you wish
  • Select "Meets" you'll be competing in
  • Keep your results current


Develop a Personal Information Filing System:

It is highly recommended that during your high school years, you keep track of your achievements and activities both in and out of the pool. It is amazing how many details we forget over time and yet come fall of your senior year, you will need this information for all of your college applications. Armed with this “log”, you will be prepared to paint a complete picture of yourself as a college applicant and as a team member.  In one consolidated folder or in a tabbed binder maintain, at a minimum, the most recent copy of:

  • an unofficial transcript/report card
  • most recent USA Swimming top times report
  • a copy of all College Board/standardized test results
  • major achievements/awards (both academic and athletic) and their description
  • club memberships
  • activities/community service: include dates, hours and descriptions
  • leadership positions and their description
  • employment/internships: include dates, hours and descriptions
  • travels, etc.

Clean up your “Facebook”/Social Networking pages/establish your Email Address:

Before initiating contact with coaches, establish a dedicated email address for communication with college admissions/coaches.  This address may actually be a school’s/coach’s first impression of you and needs to make the correct impression. This address needs to be a positive and “professional” reflection of you as a PSA. Additionally, make sure your “Facebook Page” or other social networking sites are “in order” and private. These have become useful tools for college admissions officers, coaches and employers to research their potential students/employees. This may also be a coach’s or potential new teammates’ first impression of you. It is highly likely that as soon as your “host” swimmer learns your name, they will try to familiarize themselves with you via these sites. It is a small swimming world and even though your page is private, swimmers know other swimmers who may be able to get access to your information. Please make your best effort to ensure that there isn’t anything on your page that you wouldn’t want your potential new coach or teammates to see.


Organize a College Filing system: Keep records as you research

As you research colleges and their swim teams, we recommend that you begin a filing/folder system for each individual school as navigating the various college and athletic websites is extremely cumbersome. It is often very hard to find the information you are seeking and then to find it again at a later date. To save yourself time and duplication of effort during the application process, as you research schools, take note of or print out for each school:


  • Website address
  • Address
  • Phone Number and Fax Number
  • Deadlines for Applications:  Early Decision, Rolling Decision, Regular Decision, etc
  • Are decisions binding or non-binding?
  • Testing Requirements: Standardized tests and score requirements, number of Subject Tests required, AP Tests
  • Copy of the Application: Common Application, Supplemental Applications, Specific College Applications, Honors Colleges (print out copies if available)
  • Letter of Recommendation Requirements and forms (on-line or mailed?)
  • Essay questions and personal statement requirements (Usually not available until the summer before you apply)
  • High School Course requirements
  • Other

Swim Team:

  • Coaches’ Names and titles, address, email address, phone number and Fax number
  • Coaches’ Background and number of years on the team
  • Athletic questionnaire
  • Athletic Conference
  • Historical Conference Results (list other teams in the Conference)
  • Recruiting information available on their website. Some coaches spell out exactly what is required of a  PSA ie one college may make it clear that they will NOT contact you, it is up to the swimmer to prove to the coach how much they want to swim for them, while others will contact you only if you are a National Level Swimmer, etc. Be familiar with each school’s procedure
  • School colors and school mascot (good for cover letters and conversations with coaches!)