An official visit, as defined by the NCAA is “any visit to a college campus by a college-bound student-athlete or his or her parents paid for by the college.” In addition to showing a coach’s interest in you as a potential recruit, an official visit is also an exciting opportunity to explore the campus, the dorms, and getting to know the team while deciding if this is the place for you.
As coaches are allowed a limited number of official visit invitations (depending on the sport), they’re often reserved for their prime recruiting targets. As such, being invited for an official visit is a pretty strong indicator of a coach’s interest in you. And, to make the most of that opportunity, it’s important that you prepare ahead of time.
This article will provide some tips and advice on what you need to know about official sports recruiting visits.
How It Works
For most athletes, official visits are allowed beginning at the start of your junior year. A coach can issue an invitation for an official visit via a phone call, email, text, or direct message. Upon receiving an invitation, it’s up to you to figure out when you and your family can make the visit.
While it demonstrates a coach’s interest in you, an official visit doesn’t always mean a scholarship offer is forthcoming. The official visit will play a big role in the coach’s evaluation of you, your personality, and your background. How you interact with the coach and your family on the visit will also carry some weight when the coach decides if you’re right for their program.
What To Expect
While the experience will vary by school, most official visits will include a campus tour. Take that opportunity to get a feel for the campus to see if that’s where you want to spend the next four years. Remember to take notes so that, when you do make your decision, you can refer back to what you liked and didn’t lie about each school.
As you tour the campus, be sure to visit the library and sit in on a class. Check out your housing options, both on-campus and off. Meet the athletic training staff and an academic adviser. Check out the school cafeteria or food court and just hang out on the campus grounds or student union. Finally, disconnect from your phone and see if you connect with that campus.
In addition, you’ll likely be introduced to some team members or, depending on the sport, the whole team. This will allow the coaches to see if you’ll fit in with the team. In addition, you may also be invited to a practice or other team activity. That will be your chance to see if you like how the team suits you.
Some schools may also arrange for you and your parents to attend a home sporting event and they may also have a team member take you to dinner or provide an extended campus tour. You’ll also be provided free time to explore the campus on your own.
What About Your Parents?
While schools are invited to your official visits, remember that the school will only pay for their transportation if you’re all traveling in the same vehicle. Once on campus, remember that vehicle coaches want to get to know you and your family, it’s you they’re recruiting. That’s why it’s important that you do most of the talking and interacting with the coach. The coach expects your parents to have their own questions, especially where finances and scholarships are concerned, but if a coach asks you a question directly, make sure you’re the one who answers it with equal directness.