September 18, 2008

Volleyball Campus Visit and Meeting Question

A good question(s) about what to ask during campus visit meetings:

My daughter has been talking to a DII college and after seeing her video they are very interested. They have asked if she can come to the school for a visit, and to go ahead and apply to the school, which she has. We have arranged a weekend to go to the school. The coach has indicated that beside the usual visit activities, talking with admissions, tour of the school, etc., they will be sitting down with her one on one. Our daughter is concerned that she doesn't know what kind of questions the coach will ask her and in turn what kind of questions she should ask the coach. Do you have some insight on what the coach may ask her, and what would be some good questions to ask the coach. I am assuming the coach will also speak with us, and I am not sure how to approach the subject of scholarship and financial aid. She is also in contact with another college that is in the same conference. Do we let each college know we are talking to the other one? She has already visited the other school and applied for admission. They have indicated they would like to make a decision for early signing. She is in weekly contact with them via email but no activity for recruitment other than that. June

Since there are a few questions, please let me reply to each one and make observations;

1. Questions the coach may ask - When I first read your questions, I had a few red flags go up that the coach(s) has asked to meet with your daughter alone but has not finalized a meeting time with you. I understand coaches want to spend some time with Prospective Student-Athletes (PSA's) during visits, but to specifically exclude the parents seems suspect. I would think the coach would be asking some direct questions - How close are you to making a decision, what other schools are you interested in, what other scholarship offers have been extended and what amount. In addition, one would hope the coach would ask some questions to encourage your daughter to interact - How did you like the campus, what did you think of the academic meetings, what are your goals in volleyball and school, how are you liking your Senior year, etc.

2. What questions to ask the coach - Anything your daughter wants to know. For instance, is there an athlete study hall, is there a dedicated trainer for the volleyball team, what are the travel policies (freshman, walk-ons, etc), do volleyball players live with other volleyball players, can she get a job during the school year to earn some extra money, how many players per room on road trips, does a scholarship cover an extra semester or year if it is needed to graduate, what product does the team use (Nike, Adidas, etc.), does the coach have a contract, etc.

3. How to approach the subject of financial aid - Just ask. As simple as this seems, the coach would be expecting this question. Don't worry about being inappropriate by talking about finances - this scholarship is not coming out of the coach's pocket, it is part of the budget. If the coach does not offer, ask to have some time to meet with her/him before you depart campus. The easiest way to handle it is to ask in a straightforward way, "Is there scholarship support available for our daughter?" Remember that DII schools can draw from a few different sources to package a scholarship, so this may be a bit confusing to you. The bottom line is the bottom line and make sure the bottom line is spelled out. For instance, if the coach says your daughter would be awarded X amount of dollars for athletics and X amount of dollars for academics, make sure the academics is illustrated. For many schools, this is academic amount is written down and is based on test scores and gpa.

4. Do we let the coach know about other schools - Only if asked. I would not throw that out there; but if asked, don't hesitate to illustrate the other options that your daughter has. One of the drawbacks of Division II volleyball is that scholarship offers can become bidding events. I guess this is good for the PSA to receive a larger amount, bit the back and forth can get a bit unnerving for parents and players.

5. The other school - Even though you did not ask a question, I am unclear about their status. Your daughter has applied and has been/is going to be asked for an early decision, but has there been a scholarship offer? I would not worry if the 'recruitment' is just weekly e-mails; if they are consistent and sincere, then they are legit. It sounds like you have taken a visit to the other school and liked the experience, so take it at face value.

I applaud you for being interactive in the recruiting process and congratulate your daughter on being able to have a choice. Please tell her not to stress over what questions she may be asked; it is not a test, just a way for a coach to get a better feel for a future player. It should also be the avenue for your daughter to get a better feel for the coach - some coaches seem fantastic via e-mail and telephone, but are a different image in person!

I hope everyone enjoys the visits - when visits are done right, they can be a lot of fun!