If you are a recruited athlete, chances are you will be invited to a group visit day. These campus visits are designed to introduce you to the coaching staff, tour the campus and athletic facilities and meet other student-athletes. But, don’t be fooled. These are also opportunities for the college’s coaches, faculty and admissions staff to assess you. Make no mistake. This is an interview. And, not just an interview, but a group interview. You will be evaluated not just on how you present yourself, but how you interact with and compare to the other athletes being considered.
Here’s how to approach your group visit day so that you emerge as a champion:
- Play Offense. Know your “Why College X” and practice it out loud so it’s comfortable for you to say.
- Start with what you like about the academics. For most colleges (although not all), students are there with a primary goal of earning an education. What is it about this college’s learning philosophy, approach or opportunities that appeal to you?
- Then you can outline why this school’s athletic program is a great fit for you and how you can contribute to your team.
- Finally, if applicable, you can round out your answer with some commentary of the college culture, location, etc.
- Be Informed. Be sure to read the newspaper on the flight over and have a few things you can talk about – either as an icebreaker or in an interview situation. You want them to know that you are a student who is informed about what is happening in your world.
- Cover Your Bases. While some coaches may be able to offer admission to a select number of students, chances are your application will have to be reviewed by someone in the admissions department. Email your admissions officer in advance to let him or her know you will be on campus and would love to come by to introduce yourself if possible.
- Think Like a Superstar. Shoulders back, look people in the eye, good handshake, big smile, and always remember your manners.
- Be a Team Captain. In group events, you want to lead the group, not dominate it. Be the first to introduce yourself or volunteer. But, remember you want to create a team, so find opportunities to make sure everyone is included. Approach the student who is standing alone awkwardly, ask open-ended questions and listen to the answers.
- Embrace Your Inner Athlete. If this school is your top choice, it is your championship ring. You should do what is necessary to earn the ring. Tell your coach that this college is your #1 choice and you would commit today if you could. Ask him or her what you need to do – as a student and as an athlete – to be a part of his team. What ACT, GPA, training do you need to do? Coaches want students who are focused, disciplined and won’t derail themselves or their teams by getting into silly business. Show him you are that student.
- Remember the Post Game. Your visit is not over when you leave campus. Collect business cards from everyone you meet so you can send a follow-up email thanking them for their time, reiterating why you would love to play on this team and study at this school and what you hope to contribute to their college community.
Finally, relax and be yourself. This type of event should play to your natural strengths as an athlete. So, do you.