Tuesday, 18 February 2014

5 Reasons Why Unofficial Visits Pay Big Academic and Financial Dividends to Student Athletes

The question of 'unofficial visits' comes up quite a bit. The main concern is 'is it worth the time and effort and can the student-athlete and their family get any benefits and positive results from 'unofficial visits'. The answer is 'yes'. An 'unofficial visit' is a visit to a college campus where the family pays their own way and the college does not pay or reimburse the family for any of the families' expenses.
• By taking an 'unofficial visit' it shows the college coach that you have more than just a passing interest in their school. It takes a bit of time to coordinate the family schedule and make a commitment to travel to and spend a good portion of the day at a school. There is also the expense which is borne by the family. This extra effort is one of the many items a coach wants to see in a prospective student athlete. It helps to differentiate the tire-kickers from the serious buyers.
• An 'unofficial visit' or any visit usually starts with a guided walking tour of the campus which can take from 45 - 90 minutes depending on questions from the group and size of the campus. A campus visit gives the athlete and the family an opportunity to see and feel the vibration of the campus and the students. Each and every school is different. The tour visits most buildings, some classrooms, dorms, cafeteria, gym, library, student center etc. Hint - Bring a camcorder or other recording device and record the tour. After you have been on a few visits and after a few months have passed, the details of the tours tend to blend together.
Also, take the visit while school is in session. It gives you the opportunity to see more than empty buildings. Be sure to eat in the cafeteria, you will be eating it for four years. Talk to the students in the cafeteria. They did the same thing you are doing a few years ago. Ask about the classes, weekend entertainment, athletic teams, support for athletic teams, and accessibility to the professors, etc.
• Be sure to inform the coach that you will be making an 'unofficial visit' and taking a tour. Try to get an appointment to meet with the coach in his/her office while you are on campus. Bring with you: your College Prospects of America profile, coaches monthly update form, copies of your transcript or report card, SAT or ACT scores, letters of recommendation from high school and/or club coaches, highlight videos, upcoming schedule, third party information such as newspaper articles, verified stat sheets, a printed and completed version of that schools' online questionnaire.
• Do your research before making the visit. Visit their website and learn about their school. Visit the team website and learn about the team, how they did this past or current season, learn about the coach and his/her history and record. Be an informed consumer. After-all, you are interviewing them just as they are interviewing you.
• After the tour has concluded, inquire if they can offer you an application fee waiver or voucher. If you are going to the time and expense of visiting their school, many schools will waive the application fee.
With your sport in mind, explore colleges and universities that interest you, but take time to consider all the variables. Dig into all the college information you can find. Your athletic skill might help get you some financial aid. So, keep your studies and future career in mind.

By Steve Karp

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