Sign Up Log In


The College Recruiting Group's picture

Achieving Success in College Recruiting-“How To” Guide Sheet #3 TAKING THE INITIATIVE

Achieving Success in College Recruiting
Recruiting “How To” Guide Sheet #3:

Submitted by:  David Stoeckel, College Recruiting Group (Laguna Hills, CA)


In our “How To” Guide Sheet #2, we emphasized the importance of “taking the initiative” to get your college recruiting experience underway.  We are now going to explain to you, step by step, the process that we initiate in order to provide a high school athlete with the opportunity to become successfully recruited.  We know that our program, if followed closely, has resulted in a very high recruiting success rate over the past 21 years.  However, we do NOT make any guarantees, whatsoever, in regard to recruiting success, athletic scholarships, admission to colleges, or other similar achievements.


We customarily start the recruiting process with a self-evaluation.  We suggest that the athlete and his/her parents sit down and review a number of factors to identify what are the most important attributes for the athlete when selecting a college.  These preferences, coupled with identifying the level of college that will be most realistic – athletically and academically – will permit a family to significantly narrow down their list of target schools.


To facilitate this “self-evaluation”, we have designed a College Priorities Analysis worksheet, which we traditionally use at our initial meetings with new college-bound student-athletes.  This is the first proactive step of the college recruiting process for all athletes we are counseling.

FREE COPY!!  If you are planning to perform a self-evaluation using our format, we would be glad to email you a copy of our College Priorities Analysis worksheet in order to simplify this portion of the recruiting experience for you.  Just send an email to, stating that you have read the article in our Recruiting “How To” Guide Sheet #3 at and would like a copy of the College Priorities Analysis worksheet.  Provide your name and the email address where you would like it to be sent and we will reply promptly.


Let’s take a look now at the initial factors to be considered when identifying your list of “target schools”.  Keep in mind that these attributes are just the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to making a decision regarding where you will eventually go to school.  Our intent here is to provide you with the tools that will allow you to make an intelligent selection of target colleges that meet one or more of your priorities and objectives.  At the same time, you want schools that are realistic for you academically and for your personal athletic level of play.  That way, any coach who responds to your Letter of Introduction (one of the next steps in the process) will be from a school that meets one or more of your criteria.

Our goal is to not waste a lot of your time, or a coach’s time, by emailing back and forth, filling out online questionnaires, sending transcripts, game schedules, etc., to a coach at a school at which you have absolutely no interest, whatsoever.  We have seen this happen over and over again with athletes who have signed up with a recruiting service that promises to post your Athletic Profile on their website where it will give you “exposure” to every college coach in the nation, 24/7.  Unfortunately, this arrangement may result in you being contacted by many coaches from schools that are clearly not of interest to you.

On our College Priorities Analysis worksheet, we are going to look at just six primary areas for you to consider when picking your initial list of schools.  Following is a brief description of each of these areas.  Bear in mind that we are looking at the goals and objectives of the ATHLETE, not of the parents.


Initially, we suggest that the parents take a copy of the College Priorities Analysis worksheet and sit down together to review it and determine their “answers”.  Concurrently, the athlete should have another copy of the worksheet to record his/her own responses.

When everyone has completed this task, they come together, announce their respective answers, and then discuss those topics on which they have differences of opinions.  Also, I always tell the families that, for the most part, there are no right or wrong answers and that they can change their mind, at any time, regarding any of their initial responses.  Going through this evaluation exercise is simply a way for you to give yourselves a logical and reasonable “starting point” for your College Recruiting Experience.


  1. Athletics

Many soccer players have been participating in their sport for quite a few years, including some who started to play the game when they were in kindergarten and never stopped all the way through their senior year of high school!  As a result, some athletes may just simply be burnt out—physically, mentally or emotionally—by the time they are juniors or seniors in high school.  It is, therefore, imperative that these athletes ask themselves:  “Do I still have a genuine passion for soccer?  Will I be able to always give a 110% effort to the sport for four years after I graduate from high school?”  If the answers are No, or Maybe, then you really need to give some serious consideration as to whether or not you should put a lot of time, money, and energy into the college recruiting process.

Next, do you want to be a member of the most competitive college team possible, even though your playing time may be very limited?  Or, do you want to play on a less competitive college team where you are one of the very top players in the program from Day One?  For some athletes, this could result in some frustrating experiences.  As a third option, would you prefer to be in a program where you have to work hard to earn a position, you can expect to get some playing time during your freshman and sophomore years, and your teammates and opponents have skill levels comparable to yours?

Thirdly, ask your high school or travel team coach, or a college coach at a college summer/ID camp that you may attend, what level of play do they think would be realistic for you when you enter the college ranks.  Do they feel that you have the ability to play NCAA Division I? II? III? NAIA? or at a Junior College?  If they know you really well, and if they have been coaching for a number of years and have had many of their former players become successfully recruited to play in collegiate programs, then they should have a good feel for what would be a realistic level for you. 

The answer to this foregoing question is extremely important and can make your recruiting experience much more efficient than if you just selected a number of colleges at random, or based solely on your “Dream Team List”.

  1. Academics

Identify your current cumulative GPA as well as your best SAT and/or ACT test scores.  Also, if you have selected a college major which you feel is certain, fixed, and will not change (even though, in reality, it may very likely change once you get to college), write it down. 

Matching your academic scores and preferred major with suitable, realistic, potential colleges is easier and much more of an objective process than finding a realistic “athletic match”.  Accordingly, this academic factor must be kept in mind as you go through and identify what you think are good soccer schools based on your athletic abilities and the suggestions of your coaches.  Usually, your high school college counselor can help you select colleges that could provide good academic opportunities for you.

In view of the fact that student-athletes may sometimes get admitted to colleges where they would not be accepted as a student alone, you need to decide if you want to take advantage of this opportunity and try to get recruited by the most prestigious and highly-rated academic institution possible, or a school at the opposite end of the spectrum, i.e., one where you would be a Star in the classroom, or somewhere in between.

And, finally, I ask my athletes what they feel is the relative importance of a college’s “Athletic Match” for them (playing time, athletic scholarship, compatibility with future teammates, etc.) versus “Academic Match” (strength of academic reputation, majors available, etc.).  Are these two factors 50/50 in importance?  Would you weigh them 60/40?  Would you give Athletics an 80% priority to 20% for Academics?  Of course, this answer may require some serious discussion time and listening to input from your parents.  Nevertheless, this question provides parents and athletes some idea of how each of them value the respective importance of these two elements.

  1. “Financial Aid”

This term encompasses a variety of forms of financial assistance that may be made available to a student-athlete.  It could be an athletic scholarship, an academic scholarship, need-based financial aid, merit awards, work-study programs, or other similar programs.  It is important that your family recognizes, from the outset, the significant costs of a college education.  Then your parents need to assess whether or not they are in a position to comfortably handle all or some of the costs of your college education.  If not, you must obviously focus on identifying colleges that may have the highest probability of awarding you monies to help finance your education.  This can be based, in part, on how strong of an athlete you are in relationship to the athletes presently attending the colleges that you are targeting.  Similarly, the strength of your grades and test scores compared to the average student being accepted by the colleges that you have identified can have a significant effect on potential academic scholarships that may be available to you.

  1. Size of Enrollment

The preferred size of the student body enrollment is a personal decision to be made by each athlete.  There are advantages and disadvantages to small schools as well as larger colleges.  What are the class sizes?  Do students and faculty really know each other?  Do you want a large school that has a wider selection of potential majors, more activities, clubs, and organizations, or do you prefer a mid-sized school that may have many of the advantages of a small school and a large college combined?  The relative size of your high school compared to other schools in your area may be a good starting point in deciding whether you are most comfortable with a small, medium, or large school.   And, eventually, visiting college campuses, especially when they are in session, can give you some good insight into where you may feel most comfortable.

  1. Urban/Rural Environment

Do you want to attend a college in the middle of New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, or other similar large metropolitan area, or would you prefer a more rural, less populated setting?  Or, perhaps, something in between these two alternatives?  Remember, there are no right or wrong answers to most of these questions; it’s simply a matter of personal preferences and deciding where you, with your individual personality, ambitions, desires, etc., would be most comfortable.

  1. Geographic Preference

This is possibly the most significant single factor that can either provide you with a tremendous range of potential college opportunities, or, severely limit your options.  Many athletes want to stay close to home, and their parents are frequently very supportive of this idea.  However, if you limit yourself to just remaining within your state, or a certain portion of your state or geographic region, you may very likely be faced with a very small number of colleges in that area, let alone trying to find ones that are a realistic match for you both athletically and academically.

I tell my student-athletes that if you have a very strong interest in staying “local”, that’s fine.  However, to optimize your chances of having a successful recruiting experience, let’s also target some colleges outside your immediate area, as well as out-of-state schools where there may be a number of strong matches for some of your other preferred college criteria.

As you will see on our College Priorities Analysis worksheet, we provide the athlete with a list of various geographic areas within the country (West Coast, Northeast, Great Lakes, etc.) and then ask the athlete to select their top three to five areas, in priority order.

Once you and your parents have selected and discussed “your priorities” regarding the above factors, YOU now need to put these six factors in order of importance.  This will enable you to achieve the purpose for which this form was designed—to identify what is most important to YOU in regard to your college career, along with identifying which colleges are the most realistic matches for you from an academic and athletic standpoint.

Is your sport most important to you?  Is “money” (financial aid/athletic scholarship) the top priority for you and your family?  How about the “academic” match?  Hopefully, that is pretty high on your list, too!

You, of course, can add other major “significant attributes” to this evaluation process.  Some families may have strong feelings regarding racial/ethnic factors, religion, weather, or maybe even “close proximity to a sizeable shopping mall”.  (Yes, one of our recent young female athletes actually added this factor, while maintaining a straight face, as a Very High Priority in her selection of a college!  And her Mother agreed!!)


In our  “How To: Guide Sheet #4”, we will discuss How To Select the target schools that could be right for you as well as deciding How Many Colleges should receive your Introductory Letter.  In addition, we will review and explain the contents of a “results-getting Athletic Profile”.

Have any questions?  If you have questions about any of the topics or material covered in this or any prior Guide Sheet, please feel free to email them to us.  Likewise, if you have any general comments about our articles or have suggestions that may make this series more informative and valuable to future college-bound student-athletes, we would welcome those messages, too.  We will then select a few questions or comments that we feel would be of general interest to the greatest number of our readers and provide answers in a future edition of our Guide Sheets.  Your messages can be emailed to

Good luck with your recruiting experience.

David Stoeckel

College Recruiting Group
Laguna Hills, CA


Share this: