There is something to be said about old fashioned values that can lend itself to a successful college search. Unfortunately, we live in a culture of immediate gratification that places primary importance on results rather than the process.
I remember my dad telling me as a boy that the best things in life are achieved by dedicating oneself to worthy goals and more importantly a step by step approach. “Avoid gaps” he would say “and develop and maintain a strong working foundation,” Dad called this a brick by brick approach.
I did not fully grip his philosophy as a teenager, and I wish I had. However, as I advanced through college and the early part of my professional life, dad’s message made more significant sense. A brick by brick approach to any “life quest” is demanding and challenging and I value it now more than ever.
1) Identify your college goals.
The best starting point with the college search is to establish clear goals, objectives, and timelines. Begin with the end game in mind and work backward to the starting point of your plan.
You will notice “checkpoints” along the way that you will encounter as you navigate the college quest from the beginning. Whether it is the signing of the national letter of intent, the official visit, or the first phone call placed to the coach, you will have a clear checklist of “things to do.”
2) Outline your plan of attack.
A knowledgeable consumer will have a clear edge in the pursuit of the attainment of any worthy goal. I believe the same holds true in the college search. I encourage prospects to make every effort to organize valuable information regarding the recruiting process and execute well-designed plans.
Embrace your target timelines (making unofficial visits, maintaining your college database, and attending competitions). Also, add specific events (compiling a video and recruiting profile, communicating with coaches, and making official visits) as you advance. This will increase the chances of “hitting targets” throughout the process.
3) Execute your plan.
Putting your plan into action is critical to the success of the college search. You have created a long checklist of actionable items. Now it is time to carve your list up into mini-assignments that are impactful yet manageable.
Remain true to your weekly assignments no matter what. If you accomplish every item on your checklist, your self-confidence will grow. You will realize your college plan is not only working; it is gaining momentum. Maintain high expectations for yourself and remain dedicated to your plan…Brick by brick.
4) Evaluate and seek feedback from your college team.
For example, I believe in a team approach when navigating the college athletics recruiting process. This approach will maximize efficiency and minimize individual pressure and stress as families embrace a potentially daunting effort.
Above all, forming a trustworthy group of individuals who play specific roles during the recruiting cycle will increase your chances of reaching pre-determined goals.
By selecting the team approach, the responsibility in effectively executing your recruiting plan should be equally distributed to the area experts. All assignments should be spelled out, and communication between team members should be often and consistent.
Consequently, this will help streamline the complete operation of the project and assist the family in avoiding any confusion that could contribute to unclear thinking, misdirection, and potentially poor choice.
Remember, college coaches are recruiting prospective student-athletes on three levels. They are looking for 1) strong students, 2) impact athletes and 3) future team leaders. Demonstrate your unyielding purpose in the college recruiting process and give the college coaches a glimpse of your personal integrity.
We live in an ever-changing world that appears ultra-competitive and sometimes unfair. Cultural evolution is natural, but we do not need to abandon old fashioned values.
Patience, diligence, and dedication are virtues that seem counter-intuitive to present day success. Regardless, a brick by brick approach in the college recruiting process, although long and grueling, will get you to your goal. Dad was right. “Always take the high road Tommy. You will never go wrong.”
About Tom Kovic:
Tom Kovic is a former Division I college gymnastics coach (Penn) and the current director of Victory Collegiate Consulting, where he provides individual advisement for families on college recruiting. Tom is the author of “Reaching for Excellence”, an educational guide for college athletics recruiting. For further information visit: www.victoryrecruiting.com
Editor's Note: Publication of this article is not an endorsement of any recruiting service. Always check with the NCAA or your school's compliance officer for any questions regarding recruiting rules, the latest timelines, or other issues.