College Recruitment: A Nuanced and Complicated Process
by The Milton Measure on Friday, January 13th, 2017
Many talented athletes who have excelled at the high school level seek to further their talent by participating at the collegiate level. According to the NCAA, of the estimated eight million high school athletes, only about 6% have the opportunity to play in college. This highly selective process forces athletes to dedicate a majority of their time to maintaining and improving both their skills and ranking.
One such dominant athlete, Raneem Mohamed (I), has worked incredibly hard, ranked 17th in the 2016 National Squash Tournament, and turned in several other strong performances to make her one of the top prospects in the country. Despite her squash prowess, she found the recruitment process to be very taxing.
The process started in the summer of her sophomore year when she contacted 15 coaches from schools with the best squash programs. All of them wrote back with the benchmarks they required for her standardized testing scores and grades. She had to maintain not only strong grades, but also impeccable athletic performances as coaches were watching and scrutinizing her matches. Additionally, for certain sports such as squash, a coach only has a handful of spots to give out. The small number of players on the team makes each spot even more coveted and harder to obtain.
Similarly to Raneem, many athletes agree that — to outsiders — the recruitment process seems much less stressful than it really is. Those who know little about the recruitment process often believe that schools completely overlook grades and test scores in favor of gaining a competitive edge for their athletic departments. In reality, athletes must meet certain benchmarks in order to meet a given school’s eligibility requirements, so anyone getting recruited has to meet the standard. Consistently hitting these goals while also sustaining elite athletic performance is the primary concern of college prospects.
Recruits also have to navigate a whirlwind timeline. Athletes who verbally commit often have to get their applications in by mid-September, almost a month and a half before most early application deadline. The schools return to the student a “likely letter” indicating that he or she can anticipate admission. Many athletes do not receive a verbal offer from a coach until the summer before their senior year and consequently they have very little time to complete the application to that school. After verbally committing in August, Raneem had only two weeks to write her supplement for Princeton, a time restriction that only added to her stress.
Given Milton’s additional academic rigor, the college process is arguably harder for recruits in certain ways. Despite this difficulty, Milton’s community and coaches provide a lot of support during the process. After getting off of a Skype call with the coach of the Princeton team, during which she was offered a spot on the team, Raneem’s first move was “calling coach Kane immediately because he helped [her] a lot during this process.” Similarly, Abigail Furdak (I), who was recruited to Middlebury as a field hockey goalie, said, “All of my Milton coaches were really helpful and supportive during the recruiting process and gave me insight into their experiences playing college sports.”
Looking back, Raneem maintains that she would not have changed anything about the actual process, but rather her mindset regarding the process. She said, “I wish I was less stressed about it” but does not see this stress as completely avoidable. Furthermore, her junior year was filled with many sleepless nights. For many recruits, the pressure of getting recruited manifests itself in the fear of not being able to play competitively again. For others, the worry lies in what division they will get to play for. Despite these differences, the high school athletes that strive to play at the next level share their consistent work, ethic, and passion. The college recruitment process can certainly take its toll, but, for most, the end result of becoming a collegiate athlete justifies all the hard work required.
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