Don't be! As long as you have an open mind about possibilities, then everything will work out fine. We will look at the final year of recruiting in two ways - If you have followed Parts I through III or if you are just starting.
If you have been able to apply suggestions from Parts I, II, or III, you should be in a position to take a realistic look at the recruiting situation. During the early part of the Fall semester in High School, you need to evaluate where you stand with the schools with which you have been interactive. How many coaches on your list of potential schools are still active in recruiting you? You can only find this out by being direct in your communication with coaches. Some of the schools, may have already let you know that they have completed their recruiting process; for the others, you need to contact them to find out.
Once you have assembled a current active list of schools, you should make a decision - Are there enough potential schools or do you wish to add more. If you don't have at least 7 schools that are sincerely recruiting you (active with e-mails, talking to you over the phone, etc) then you should add more colleges. You add more colleges by immediately sending out e-mails and making telephone calls to a realistic list of schools.
By realistic, I mean schools that are still recruiting PSA's. By the Senior year of a recruiting class, the majority of the power conference schools have finished their incoming class, along with many of the mid-major programs. Contacting a top 10 program, even if you have always wanted to go there, is going to be a waste of your time.
Try to be open when you look at where you would want to go - some parts of the country have a congregation of Division I schools while other areas are rather sparse. If you are willing to travel away from home, you will have greater options available. If you are willing to consider different size schools, you will increase your choices.
After you have re-vamped your list to include new schools, contact them immediately with an e-mail/telephone call, to ask if they are still recruiting and if so, send them your skills tape. Since the Early Signing Period is in November, you have window of 3 months.
If you have not been able to follow Parts I through III and are just starting out, you have no time to waste if you want to sign with a Division I program. IMMEDIATELY put together a video tape of your skills (not games), along with a recruiting bio sheet that contains your most current information (name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, position played, height, weight, approach jump, blocking jump, g.p.a. and ACT/SAT test scores). Next, generate a realistic list of schools to contact - this list should be at least 50 schools, should be nationally focused and should not be power conference programs.
You are coming in very late to the Division I recruiting process and must be exact in who you contact. Use e-mail and phone calls to initiate contact with programs, snail mail will take too long. With an e-mail, you should attach an information sheet and be patient with a response - during the playing season college coaches get hundreds of e-mails a week. You can find direct telephone numbers for coaches on the school's athletic web site - when you call, odds are that you will get a message machine - leave a short, simple voice mail with your name, YEAR IN SCHOOL (this way they know if NCAA rules allow a call back), position and telephone number.
When starting late, your best bet is to get your information out to as many schools as possible, as quickly as possible and be as aggressive as possible. Sending out a couple of letters and hoping for the best will not work.
Whether you are starting late or have been active in the recruiting process for a couple of years, if you reach the Early Signing Period of your Senior year and do not have an offer from an attractive Division I school, then it is time to seriously consider your non-Division I options. This is because the number of available Division I scholarships will be limited for the Late Signing Period which arrives in the spring.
These are your non-Division I options: NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III, NAIA and Junior Colleges. While the NCAA Division I schools enjoy a significant advantage in media exposure and reputations, there are many other schools that actually provide better support for their volleyball programs than some Division I programs. Unfortunately, quite a number of Division I athletic departments just want to be successful in football and basketball, so their Olympic Sports (Volleyball, Softball, Soccer, etc) are funded in a minimal level to free up resources for the chosen sports. I know of a number of Division II and Junior College programs that have better equipment, travel better and have more scholarships than many Division I teams.
Each classification of college volleyball has unique scholarship levels: Division I funds 12 scholarships (if a school fully funds the program) and only 12 players can be on scholarship (this is why Division I volleyball is called a Head Count sport); Division II can fund 8 scholarships if the school chooses, but any number of players can be on some type of scholarship, provided the total scholarships equal 8 (this is called an Equivalency sport); Division III schools only provide academic scholarships for players; Junior Colleges and NAIA schools are funded at the discretion of the school - each school decides at what level to allocate scholarships - usually if a JC or NAIA program is traditionally successful, then they have a large number of scholarships.
If you are an average volleyball player, with a solid set of skills and want to play during college, then you should consider Division II or NAIA. If you want to focus on your education, yet stay active in volleyball, then Division III is your best fit. The NAIA classification can be a good choice for PSA's that have a certain religious orientation (a number of Baptist and Wesleyan or Nazarene colleges are NAIA) or may struggle with some of the academic qualifications germane to NCAA schools. If you are a good volleyball player, who got a very late start or got a low score on your ACT/SAT tests, then Junior College could be a great choice - it allows you to get plenty of playing time, improve your academic standing, then transfer to a Division I school for your Junior year.
Your Senior year is your final year to garner a school for your academic and volleyball future. The most important thing is to be active in the process - be interactive with college coaches, evaluate your options, contact new schools to introduce yourself, be flexible in considering many different avenues.
I enjoyed a very successful collegiate career and graduated from a top academic institution, but I was the one who initiated contact and made it happen. Only a few gifted volleyball players have the scholarships delivered on a silver platter - the rest of must work for what we want.