This is a guest post by Emily Finn. Emily Finn is the goalkeeper and senior captain for Bucknell University’s field hockey team. Now in her fourth year at a DI program, she has seen the recruiting process from the perspective of both the prospect and the athlete, and wants to use her experience to help others find the right school and program like she has.
Unofficial visits are stressful.
You have only a day or two to figure out if the school and team is right for you. This isn’t easy, especially considering that what you do with the team is often planned out by the coaching staff.
Beyond the Stats
As a recruit, I had tons of questions, and I remember being unsure on whether or not I should ask them. Now, as a student-athlete at a DI school, I find myself asking recruits if they have any questions, and seeing that same uncertainty on their faces.
School websites can give you information on classes, majors, and athletic departments. But, for me, the most important factors that went into finding my perfect school had to do the team dynamic and the relationships I would form at the school. I wanted to know how the team interacted with one another, with other athletes, and with professors.
I wanted to know how they handled being a student-athlete.
Don’t Leave it to Luck
I found the answers to some of my questions by hanging out with the team on my unofficial visit, but many of my questions were unanswered until I was actually on the team. Luckily, Bucknell turned out to be the perfect fit for me.
However, I know many athletes that also didn’t know the answers to important questions as recruits, and only after becoming student-athletes at a school did they find out it wasn’t the school for them.
Ask the Right Questions
My advice to recruits is to make a list of things you want in a school. Using this list for guidance, ask questions that you want to know the answers to, and don’t hold back. Yes, the players and coaches are judging you on your visit, but this is also the time for you to judge them.
To get you started, here are some questions to ask the players:
- Academics →
➤ What kind of majors do the players have? Are there any majors that would be difficult for me to pursue with my sport?
➤ Do you find it easy or hard to balance classes with practice?
➤ What happens if you have a class that overlaps with practice time?
➤ How do professors react when you have to miss class due to traveling or games?
➤ Are online classes available? Would you recommend taking them for a more flexible schedule?
➤ Are you able to travel abroad for a semester?
➤ Do athletes stay on campus in the summer to take classes? If so, does this make in-season easier? Do the athletes do workouts together during the summer sessions?
➤ What can athletes do if they are struggling in a class? Are tutors or study groups available?
➤ Do teammates sign up for classes together?
- Social Life →
➤ Would you say you are close with other athletic teams? Are there opportunities to meet other athletes?
➤ Who do you room with? Do you live with teammates, athletes in other sports, or is it random?
➤ If you don’t live with a teammate, are you close with your freshman year roommate?
➤ How are the meal plans? Do you eat with other athletes, or on your own?
➤ Do you know a lot of people in your major? Are you friends with people you meet in class?
➤ Would I be able to participate in Greek life? Are your teammates in a sorority/fraternity?
- Athletics →
➤ What are the team goals for the season? For the year?
➤ Are there events for team bonding outside of practice and games? Do you hang out with each other outside of the sport events?
➤ Do you attend other sporting events together?
➤ What are the team expectations of each other?
Here are some additional articles that may help prepare you for your college visits.
Want personal guidance for finding your dream school?