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Official & Unofficial Visits 101 “A Recruit’s Guide for Success”

“Thanks to all of the college visits, I got to experience colleges that I was not very familiar with. I actually signed with a college like that and could not be more happy with my decision.” -NCSA student-athlete

“NCSA opened my eyes to colleges that I had never heard of prior to joining the program. Colleges that I had ruled out in my mind ended up being on the top of my list after going on unofficial visits.” -NCSA student-athlete


Unofficial and Official College Visits


“A Recruit’s Guide for Success”

What is an Unofficial Visit and Why Are They Important? An unofficial visit is any visit to a college/university campus that is NOT funded by the institution. Unofficial visits can be taken as early as freshman year.

Typically, a coach will talk to you and your parents about their institution and athletic program and they will give you a brief tour of the athletic facilities. If a coach has seen you play, they may give you an indication of their level of interest. In some cases, verbal scholarship offers are extend ed on unofficial visits. If you know a coach has seen you play, you should ask them where you stand amongst their recruiting class, and what they feel you need to work on in order to improve. If you take the initiative to schedule an unofficial visit and you arrive with some knowledge about the university and a list of good questions, you are likely to move up on the coach’s list of potential players. Be proactive! Reminder: Bring pen and paper. Taking notes will show that you are organized.

How to Set Up an Unofficial Visit Before you visit a college, you must call or email the coach to inform him or her that you are coming to campus and would like to set up a meeting. If you have video available, make sure you send it to the coach before your visit. Ask the coach if they recommend that you schedule an admissions interview while you are on campus.

“Coach Smith, I am in the process of scheduling my unofficial visits and I would like to visit your university. Will you be available to meet with me Saturday, June 2 or Sunday, June 3? Is there anything specific I should do in order to set up an unofficial visit with your university? Do you recommend I arrange for an admissions interview? Please click on the following link to view my NCSA scouting report. The video highlights should give you an idea of my abilities.” Show up with a copy of your scouting report and a prepared list of questions. Don’t forget a paper/pen to take notes.


Unofficial and Official College Visits


“A Recruit’s Guide for Success”

What is a Game Day Visit? Game day visits are typically unofficial and they provide student-athletes and their families with the opportunity to visit the campus and watch a game. Game day visits are most common in football recruiting but take place in other sports as well. Most football programs will offer game day visits to student-athletes on their recruiting list. Remember, the coaching staff will be busy preparing their team, so recruits usually do not get much attention during a game day visit. If this happens, do not get discouraged but you should always follow up with a “thank you” to the coach who invited you on the visit. This is an actual game day visit itinerary from a DI-A Football Program: Hawks v. Wildcats Saturday, November 6, 1993 9:30 a.m.

Arrive at Game Day Center Registration


View the Hawks Highlight Tape


Game Day Presentation Recruiting - Jeff Cole, Recruiting Coordinator


Tour the Hall of Legends


Walk to Smith Arena and experience the pre-game excitement of Hawk Football.


Address by John Jackson, Head Football Coach

12:00 p.m.

Walk through the famous Hawk Tunnel and experience what no other stadium has to offer - 80,000 Hawk Fans


Pre-game warm-ups on the floor of Hawk Stadium


Kick-off - BEAT WILDCATS!!!

Post Game

Prospects and their guests: Return to the tunnel entrance of Smith Arena. Visit with the Hawk Coacheson the floor of Smith Arena; Home of Hawk Basketball. T HANK YOU FOR JOINING US FOR A FUN WEEKEND. A ny questions, don’t hesitate to call Jeff Cole, Recruiting Coordinator.

Due to NCAA regulations regarding an unofficial visit, you must pay for your own parking and lunch. General Tip: Tell coaches about the other colleges that are recruiting you. Coaches will not want their competition to get you!

Note: Always have a contact person when you attend a game day visit. If you are running late for any reason you should call and tell your contact.


Unofficial and Official College Visits


“A Recruit’s Guide for Success”

What is an Official Visit and Who Gets Them? If an institution pays for any part of a visit, it is an official visit. Typically the college will pay for travel, housing, meals and some entertainment costs. Coaches usually offer official visits to their top recruits. The number of official visits a college or team can offer depends on their budget. Division I colleges usually have the most official visits, followed by Division II colleges. Division III colleges usually do not offer paid official visits. • You are allowed to take no more than five official visits to Division I and/or Division II universities, and you can only take one visit per university. There is no limit on the number of official visits you can take at the Division III level, but you can only take one visit per college. • You may begin to take official visits beginning the opening day of classes your senior year of high school. If a coach offers you an official visit, you are most likely very high on their list. If an official visit offer is not extended, especially at the Division I or II level, you must accept the fact that you are not very high on the coach’s list.

How to Set Up an Official Visit Be upfront with the coach and ask him/her if they plan to offer you an official visit. If a coach invites you to visit during your senior year, ask if this will be an official visit. • Ask the coach what you need to bring on your visit. It is required that you send the college a copy of your high school transcript prior to taking an official visit. If a coach asks what other colleges you are visiting, you should list universities that are comparable or better. BE HONEST about the other colleges you are talking to. If a coach believes that his competitors are recruiting you, it will raise your stock! The fact that you are initiating dialogue about an official visit and that you are arranging visits with other colleges will create leverage and a sense of urgency. Note: Offers are usually made during your official visit, and your parents may not be there with you. Feel comfortable to tell a coach that you need to let your parents review any financial information before you commit. If a university really wants you they will wait a few days or a week. If you are pressured to commit but do not feel ready, simply say, ”Right now you are my number one choice, but I promised my parents I would take my five official visits before making a commitment. How long will this offer be extended?”


Unofficial and Official College Visits


“A Recruit’s Guide for Success”

What to Do On Your Visit Ask questions! Refer to NCSA’s “List of Sample Questions” in section 3D. Asking questions will show a coach that you are prepared and that you are taking your college decision seriously. Remember to ask academic, athletic, social and financial questions. Walk around the campus and try to get a feel for the atmosphere. Do the students seem friendly? Do you like the layout? Is this a place you could picture yourself living for four years? If you get an opportunity to meet the team, ask them questions too! These are the people who may be your teammates, so be friendly and try to determine whether or not you can visualize yourself fitting in with this group.

Consider arranging an admissions interview and possibly a campus tour. Ask the coach if you can sit in on a class. Watch a practice or a game, if possible. General Tip: The college you are visiting may compete against another university that is recruiting you. Don’t worry, this is a good thing. Being up front with both coaches should avoid any uncomfortable situations.

A Sample Official Visit Itinerary: 3:37 p.m. 4:45 4:30-7:30 6:30

8:00 a.m. 9:00 10:00 10:30 12:15 p.m. 2:00 4:30 6:30 7:00

8:00 a.m. 8:30-11:00 11:15 12:15 p.m.

Friday, January 15 Arrive at City Metro Airport on Flight #1111. Check into the Campus Hotel - Home of the Hawks. Welcome Reception at Campus Hotel. Meet your host, Joe Smith. Dinner at Main Street Station with Coach Jackson and Joe Smith. After dinner, free time with Joe. Saturday, January 16 Wake-up call. Breakfast at new Chemistry Building Atrium with Hawk coaches. Academic Presentation at Student Auditorium - by John Harris, Assistant Athletic Director of Academic Services. Meet with Helen Thompson, Professor of Business Administration, School of Business. Lunch at Student Union with Hawk Football Staff. Hawk vs. Lions basketball game in Smith Arena. Tour Game Day Center and Hall of Legends. Reception at Game Day Center with Hawk Football Staff. Dinner seved in Hall of Legends Commons. After dinner, free time with Joe. Sunday, January 17 Wake-up call. *Church is available if you wish. We will help you get to Church. Join staff for Brunch at Hall of Legends Commons. Clear up any unfinished business. Leave campus for the airport. Depart City Metro Airport on Flight #1114, after visiting the Nation’s top academic and athletic University.


Unofficial and Official College Visits


“A Recruit’s Guide for Success”

Questions a Coach May Ask During the Visit 1. What other institutions are recruiting you? Be honest and list colleges that are comparable to, rivals with, or better than the institution you are visiting. 2. What colleges will you visit? Be honest and name any universities that you have visited officially or unofficially. If this is the first college you have visited, state that you are in the process of scheduling the rest of your visits. 3. Has anyone offered you a scholarship? If you have been offered a scholarship you should tell the coach about it. If you have visits scheduled but have yet to receive a scholarship offer, state that you are in the process of taking your visits and you plan to discuss scholarships with those coaches when you meet with them. If no official visits are set, tell the coach you are in the process of setting up your official visits and name the colleges you are talking to.

4. When can you commit? If you are visiting your number one college and feel comfortable committing, go for it! If you have other visits pending, tell the coach you want to take your other official visits just to make sure you make an educated decision. Ask the coach, “How long does your offer stand for? When do I have to make my decision by?” What You Will Be Evaluated On Just because you are offered an official visit, does not necessarily mean you will receive a scholarship offer or even a spot on the team. The coaching staff already has identified you as a top prospect from an athletic standpoint, but the official visit gives them an opportunity to judge your personality, life-style and character. Usually, coaches will make an effort to match recruits up with team members who have similar personalities and life-styles. Be yourself, but remember, coaches are looking for young men and women who will be a positive asset to their university and team, and who get along well with others. At some point during or after your visit the coaches will probably ask your host about you, so always be courteous, positive and respectful. Reminder: Bring your handwritten list of questions that you and your family compiled. Not all of these questions will apply to every college you visit. Make a list of questions you would like to have answered in a notebook that you will keep with you at all times. When the coach asks, “Do you have any questions,” pull out your list and fire away!


Unofficial and Official College Visits


“A Recruit’s Guide for Success”

Here is an actual official visit evaluation form from a Division I university: Prospect: Roger Thomas

Host: Alex Cole

1) How well will he fit in? Would you want to work with him for four years? (x ) Very well ( ) Well ( ) Ok ( ) May Not ( ) Will Not 2) Is he interested in our University? (x) Yes, very much; We’re his #1 ( ) Yes, we are in the top ( ) So, so; we are in the top 10 ( ) Don’t think so

3) The biggest competition we have, in order, and why. 1) State College Why: Didn’t give reasons 2) Academic U. Why: Wants to visit & see what it’s like 4) Character Evaluation: (x) Tops ( ) Good ( ) Check out further ( ) Bad 5) What does he like about our University? Has liked us for long time - togetherness of team - likes the fact that you can go out & have fun-yet can stay on campus & it is quiet if you want to study. 6) Where do his parents stand? They were concerned at first about distance - but don’t seem to be now. 7) Any other comments, concerns, information, etc. Doesn’t want to stay near home - would be surprised if he doesn’t come.

General Tip: While on an official visit it is important that you make it a priority to get a good feel for the college. You need to evaluate the campus, the students, your prospective teammates, and the coaches. Ask yourself, “Is this a place where I can see myself being comfortable for four years even if I’m not an athlete?”


Unofficial and Official College Visits


“A Recruit’s Guide for Success”

Visit FAQ

You are now a senior, the most important time of the recruiting process! At this point you should begin to schedule official and unofficial visits with colleges that interest you. The more schools you visit the better! I am including some information below about visits in the form of an FAQ. I hope you find it helpful! What is the definition of an official visit vs. unofficial visit? An Official visit is paid for by the college, an unofficial is paid for by you. On an official visit the NCAA allows a school to pay for lodging, transportation, meals, and entertainment. So that includes airfare, rental car, and 3 meals a day. The school is NOT allowed to pay for your parents. If you stay overnight with a member of the team on campus, the coach may not pay for your parents hotel. On an unofficial visit a coach is able to provide tickets to 3 sporting events under $100, transportation to an off-site venue, and the student-athlete may stay overnight with a team member. Official visits cannot be made until the opening day of class senior year. The NCAA allows 5 visits to D1 and D2 schools combined. You are allowed an unlimited number of unofficial visits. You may only take ONE official visit per institution. Each official visit may be up to 48 hrs. Are all D1 & D2 schools able to offer official visits? Official visits offered based on the school’s recruiting budget. Some schools do not have the budget to offer paid visits. Can you visit a D3 school officially? Yes! You are allowed an unlimited number of official visits to NAIA & D3 schools. Unfortunately, D3 schools tend to have a limited recruiting budget and therefore aren’t usually able to offer paid airfare, hotel, etc…Some D3 schools do not offer official visits at all. It’s a case by case basis. What does it mean if the coach doesn’t offer an official during senior year? You are not likely a top recruit if it’s a D2 or D1 school as a general rule. Always ask questions and find out where you are on the recruiting list before visiting a school. Also ask what the schools policy is on official visits. Many schools are not fully-funded enough to provide airfare, but will offer to pay for meals and lodging. If they do, that IS an official visit. Always clarify with the coach whether it’s an official and unofficial. Should I always take an official if offered? Schools that are near-by, which you can drive to, you may want to consider taking an unofficial. Coaches will not be offended if you decline the official visit. Just be truthful and tell them that you are going on many visits and would rather save your officials for schools that are farther away.


Unofficial and Official College Visits


“A Recruit’s Guide for Success”

Are student-athletes allowed to tryout or practice with the team? As an NCAA rule, D1 and D3 schools do not allow tryouts. You are, however, allowed to participate in workouts that are NOT organized or observed by coaching staff. They must not be designed to test your athletic ability though. D2 schools are allowed to conduct one tryout in the off-season of your sport. NAIA schools may also offer tryouts. Are their any times when visits are not allowed? Yes. There is a Dead Period in which it is not permissible to make in-person recruiting contacts. Dead periods generally fall right before the signing periods and can be found in the NCAA Recruiting Calendar. When should visits be scheduled? You should take visits whenever you can. Your schedule is very busy, so any free time should be used for visiting colleges. Should you go on group admissions tours, recruit days, or recruitment weekends? It’s always better to meet with a coach when you take a college visit. Many times you get very little time to spend with the coach personally on a recruitment day. It really gives you no gauge about how interested the coach is in you personally. NCSA recommends asking the coach for a personal visit on another weekend. Should a student-athlete bring up a visit or wait until a coach asks? You should bring it up! Many NCSA athletes are far ahead of others in the recruiting game. You should really let the coaches know what YOUR recruiting timeline is. This is your recruiting experience and college choice, you have every right to inquire about how it’s going to work. How do you schedule a visit? The key to setting up visits is coordinating with the coach. You must call or email the coach to inform him or her that you are coming to campus and would like to set up a meeting. Always contact the coach well in advance. If you do not let a coach know about your visit you are not maximizing your time and you will miss out on opportunities. Send the coach an email, then follow-up with a phone call. If you already have a relationship with the coach it should be easy. What should you bring? When you go on a visit we would recommend bringing along your 1 page profile, transcripts, recommendation letters, pen and paper, a list of questions and video. What should you wear? Dress nicely. No hats, jewelry, or torn jeans. Wear a polo shirt and khakis with nice shoes (they can be running shoes). You want to be comfortable, but look nice. You only have one shot to make a great first impression.


Unofficial and Official College Visits


“A Recruit’s Guide for Success”

What exactly do you do on a visit? Tour the Campus, have an interview session with the coach, meet the players, tour the facilities, meet with admissions, possibly attend an athletic event, possibly stay overnight with a team member. If possible, we recommend staying overnight with a team member. It will give you the best overall feel for the school and the opportunity to speak with someone who has been in your shoes! What does the interview session with the coach consist of? This interview session is the time when you should ask any questions that you have. Prior to your visit write down questions in a notebook so you don’t forget anything. Your parents are allowed in the office with you and the coach and they are allowed to ask questions as well. They should not dominate the conversation though. You should be doing most of the talking, but if they think of something that they want to ask, they are more than welcome to. As a senior, a coach will most likely tell you what they have to offer during this meeting. You can accept right then and there, decline right then and there, or (and this is what we recommend) thank the coach for the offer and tell him/her that you need to go home and talk it over with your parents. Maybe you have other visits scheduled and you want to take those before you commit – tell them this. This is usually the best route, but make sure that you know how long the offer is on the table. It won’t be there forever and you need to know how long you have. What questions are appropriate to ask? Ask questions that you help you determine whether or not the school is a good fit. Don’t spend too much time on questions the website can answer. For example don’t ask “what is the enrollment at ---? Do ask “Coach, where do you see me fitting in with your team?” What should you be looking for on a visit to determine whether the school is a good fit? When you're on a visit make sure you get along with everyone and you feel that you will be able to have a good relationship with them. This is why asking questions and being proactive is so important. You will need to talk with these coaches and open communication lines now to help determine which schools will be the best fit for your needs and personality. Make sure your future teammates on the team seem friendly, fun, and that you will be able to make friends with them too! Make sure to see how they interact with the coaches. Do they get along, do they have fun, do they respect them? These factors are the MOST IMPORTANT when on a visit. You should be able to see the positive interactions between the coaches and the players. These people will become your family for the next four yours, and hopefully the rest of your life. Look at it this way, if you get sick, hurt, or something happens in your life--they will be there for you. Visit with players. Talk with freshmen and sophomores to get their perspective on first-year experiences. Take notes regarding your visit. Focus on: names and titles of people you meet, conditions of facilities and equipment, impressions, policies.


Unofficial and Official College Visits


“A Recruit’s Guide for Success”

Will a coach ask you to commit? As a senior, the coach will show what they have to offer and will most likely give you an offer at the end of the trip. That could be an athletic offer or other types of aid. They may ask you to verbally commit, but you do not need to commit on a visit. You can turn them down, give them your verbal, or ask for more time to go home and consider all their options and other opportunities from other schools. You should try to take all five official visits, or see as many as you can to make the best decision. Always ask the coach how long the offer is on the table or if they are going to offer someone else. If offered ask:

How long is this scholarship offer on the table? Are you going to offer this scholarship to someone else if I do not accept right away? Is the scholarship good for 5 years if I need extra time to graduate? What do I need to achieve to keep my scholarship each year? May I see the offer in writing? What should they do after the visit? Always write a thank-you letter to the coach after your visit!

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Official & Unofficial Visits 101  

A Recruit’s Guide for Success