Recruiting is about relationships. Your goal is to understand a coach, the program, and the school so that you can decide if that’s the right place for you. In addition to your athletic abilities, a coach will want to know about you, your personality, your work ethic, and more, to determine if you’d be a good addition to the team. And, just like in any getting-to-know-you situation, questions will be asked. While each coach has his or her own approach, be sure to familiarize yourself with the five most common questions college coaches ask recruits.
How are your grades?
For a college coach, this is an important question on many levels. First and foremost, a coach will want to know if you qualify academically in the eyes of the NCAA and if you can meet a given school’s admission standards. From there, remember that beyond just a scholarship, a coach is also potentially making an investment in you for the next four years. Good grades will assure a coach that you can handle the academic load in college and that an investment in you will pay off.
Another reason coaches ask about grades is that, for those whose sports are considered “equivalency sports,” each team has more athletes than equivalent scholarships. That means a coach is always looking for ways to stretch their scholarship budget further. A solid GPA and good entrance exam scores could make you eligible for academic scholarships. That could allow a coach to assemble a package of academic and athletic scholarships. And, in a coach’s eyes, that makes you a better bargain and a more attractive recruit.
What are your strengths and weaknesses as a player?
Whether you realize it or not, you have certain strengths and weaknesses as an athlete. Coaches want to know that you’re aware of what you do best, but also that you understand the areas you need to work on. When describing your strengths, you should be self-confident, but not boastful. Avoid dwelling on your weaknesses and instead frame your response to highlight the areas where you want to improve.
What sets you apart from other recruits/players?
The “right” answer to this question will be different for every athlete and every coach. Instead of noting your athletic abilities, focus on highlighting your academic achievements, leadership abilities, and or work ethic. Make sure to do your homework on the couch, the program, and the school. Then, you’ll be able to specifically highlight the contribution you can make to the team and the university.
What other colleges are recruiting you?
Recruiting is a two-way street. You want to feel like you’re at the top of a coach’s list and a coach wants to be at the top of yours. So, if a coach asks who else is recruiting you, answer honestly. A coach may not like the answer you give them, but odds are they’ll appreciate your honesty and candor.
On the other hand, if you’re not being recruited by another school, it’s OK to play hard-to-get. Simply reply that you’re “just now beginning to contact other schools” or that you’re “still waiting for some responses.”
What type of scholarship are you looking for?
In equivalency sports, a full-ride scholarship is rare and a partial scholarship is far more common. For example, an NCAA Division I soccer team can have 28 members but is limited to 9.9 scholarships for men and 14 scholarships for women. While every coach has their own formula for how to best award the scholarship money they do have, answering honestly about your financial needs can help you both make the best decision. Remember that, even if a coach offers a 20% scholarship, there may be other alternatives and opportunities available to help close the gap.
When you’re considering scholarship offers you do receive, make sure you know the “all-in” cost and every school you’re considering. That way you can make a side-by-side comparison of the true value of any scholarship you’re offered. For instance, a scholarship offering to cover 30% of your college costs at a state school might still be a better value and more affordable option than a scholarship covering 60% of your expenses at a private school. There’s nothing wrong with letting a coach know you’re looking for the best deal, but it’s also important to know the real cost of the deal they might offer.
You may not be able to prepare for every question a coach asks you, but you can be ready for the most common inquiries. Just remember that answering those questions with honesty and thoughtfulness will matter far more than just telling a coach what he or she wants to hear.
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