Being invited for an official visit is a pretty good indicator of a coach’s interest in you. However, an official visit doesn’t always mean a scholarship offer will follow. That’s why to make the most of every official visit, it pays to be prepared.

As you’ve likely already considered the merits of a number of colleges, use an official visit to “drill down” deeper on the schools on your list. To do that, familiarize yourself with what you need to do to prepare before each visit so that you put your best foot forward and keep your foot in the door at every school you visit.

This article will help you in preparing for an official college sports recruiting visit.

Know The Rules

While the rules on official visits vary by division, some general regulations to remember include:

• Division I recruits are limited to one official visit per school, with a limit of five total official visits. You are also limited to one official visit per school in DII and DII, but there is no limit on the total number of visits you take.

• As part of an official visit that includes you and your parents or guardians, a school can pay for transportation to and from the campus, as long as you and your parents travel in the same vehicle. Airline tickets, bus tickets, or train tickets may not be purchased separately for parents. Schools are also allowed to pay for lodging during your visit, three meals per day per person, and three tickets to a home sports event.

• An official visit is considered to be a maximum of 48 hours or the length of a weekend.

• Official visits are prohibited during designated ​recruiting dead periods​.

• Additional rules governing official visits will vary by the division, the sport, and that sport’s recruiting calendar​.

• For more rules specific to your sport, check the NCAA publication guide ​here​.

Preparing In Advance

• If you haven’t done so already, be sure to register with the ​NCAA Eligibility Center​. It’s required before you visit a DI or DII school and a registration fee is required. You’ll be required to have your transcript and SAT or ACT test scores sent to the NCAA as part of the registration and completion of the registration will provide you with a Certification Account and an NCAA ID number. If you’re visiting a DIII school, you need only register for an NCAA Profile page, which is free.

• Next, have a coach add your name to the​ Institutional Request List​. This is another step that ensures your eligibility for competition at NCAA schools. Further, asking a coach to put you on the IRL will speed the processing of your Eligibility Center application.

• With the first two steps complete, be sure to send the admissions office of the school you’re visiting your transcript and standardized test scores. While providing access to your transcript and test scores in the Eligibility Center application ensures you’re ​academically eligible in the eyes of the NCAA​, providing transcript and test scores to each school will help ensure you meet a given school’s academic requirements.

• If you do receive an offer from a coach on an official visit, be prepared to respond. To make sure you have an answer, think through the pros and cons of that school ahead of time. If you’ve visited other schools and you get an offer from your dream school, then the answer should probably be a prompt “Yes.” However, if you’re still considering other schools, don’t say “no” or “yes,” but simply ask the coach when the offer expires.

• When it comes to “What to wear?” it’s always safer to overdress. You want to look neat and presentable throughout the visit, so, for men, wear a collared shirt and khakis or nice jeans. For women, a dress or nice slacks or jeans will do the trick. Remember to bring athletic clothes and shoes just in case you are asked to participate in a workout. DO NOT show up for an official visit in sweats, hats, visors, flip flops, or torn jeans.

• The last step of preparing for an official visit is to assemble a list of questions for the coach. The official visit is when the coach will have time to answer all your questions, so take advantage of the opportunity. Do your research, consult with your parents to see if they have any concerns to ask about, and then write down all your questions and take the list with you. Plus, a list of intelligent questions, even if he or she has heard them all before, will show a coach you’ve taken this visit seriously.

Finally, expect the coach to ask:

• What other schools are recruiting you?
Honesty is always the best policy and, if the competing schools are rivals with the school you’re visiting, it might even increase your odds of getting an offer from that school.

• What other colleges are you visiting?
Same as above, Be honest and let the coach know where else you’ve visited or plan to visit.

• When can you commit?
It doesn’t always happen this way, but if you’re visiting the top school on your list and it’s everything you’re looking for, this might be the time to show your hand and pin down a commitment. If you haven’t made a decision, and want to see other schools, offer your best guess on when you can commit, ask how long the offer stands, and when that coach needs an answer.

Don’t Forget To Follow Up

Regardless of your experience, be sure to follow up every official visit with a thank you note to the coach, preferably hand-written, not emailed or texted. Beyond saying thanks for their time and hospitality, mention your favorite parts of the weekend and, if it applies, mention the next time you’ll be competing, should the coach want to get by. A written follow up shows the coach

your thoughtfulness and courtesy, and also keep your name prominent as they consider who will receive scholarship offers.

Just as you might prepare for a game by scouting the opposing team, prepare for every official visit ahead of time. Know what you want to ask the coaches and the advisers and know what you want to see outside of the athletic facilities. Finally, remember that being prepared will show a coach the careful thought and consideration you’re giving his or her program. And it’s that kind of preparation that could pay off with a scholarship offer!

We hope this article helped you in preparing for an official college sports recruiting visit. For additional recruiting information, please visit https://stacksports.captainu.com/college-recruiting-101/.

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