January 9, 2014

When to take an Unofficial Visit?

Hi Coach, 

My daughter just completed her Jr. season of HS vb. She has received roughly 20 emails from D1 schools showing interest. Many are Ivy League, Patriot League or non-scholarship schools because of her grades and test scores. The level of each is hard to ascertain but she's in the discussion with many saying they will be watching her this spring. There are also a handful of schools that do scholarship. 

By not knowing how to gauge their interest levels, would it be best to inquire about making a campus visit to get in front of the schools we can physically get to and at the top of her list - Even though we are not aware of how strongly they feel about her? 

Also, as parents, what should be our level of involvement as far as having any discussions either by email or phone? I don't want to stick my head in where it's not needed but I'm also hearing that I should be talking to every coach. 

Your thoughts would be appreciated. 

VB Dad

Thank you for your email and you have the correct protocol, but might be just a bit early with the scheduling visits.

As I have written about with Inside College Volleyball, taking unofficial visits are a critical component in today's recruiting process, but as these trips are on your dime, you must be aware of a school's interest level if you are doing anything more than just a local visit.  

You are just entering the club volleyball and recruiting season, so you will get a clearer view of the interest level of potential schools as the season progresses.  The end of the college volleyball season bring coaching changes, and roster changes (because of a coach change, and because of changes within a program such as injuries, homesick kids, getting cut, etc).

Because of these college changes, this will change the recruiting landscape for your PSA.  As a junior, she still has plenty of time and with her high level of academics, I believe she will be in an advantageous situation with colleges.  Back to your original question, don't plan on taking an unofficial visit to a school unless they have invited you to come see campus.

With regards to being involved as a parent, it is more critical to aware as a parent.  Your daughter needs to communicate and filter and figure out what schools 'fit' her the best, but you should be aware of these communications.  I suggest that you have your daughter bcc your email with all of her communications to college coaches.

This will allow you to read exactly what the college coaches are telling her; odds are that as an adult, you may have a different interpretation than your daughter's.  If and when, the recruitment reaches the level of a scholarship offer, then that is the time which you should step into the active communication process.  Money is an adult matter, which should be discussed between adults, not adult to teenager. 

When you make a visit to a campus, then it is good to have a few questions coming from you versus from your PSA when you are talking with the coaching staff.  Again, the objective is to filter/evaluate what is being said and shown to you, from a mature perspective.  

Parents cannot be wide-eyed when visiting a collegiate program; let your PSA enjoy the ride and be amazed, but the parents must be positively critical about everything you see and hear!

Good luck!


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