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Obstacles Parents Face in the Recruiting Process

By Next College Student Athlete, 08/30/19, 11:00AM CDT


Here are some important things parents should know before starting the recruiting process to help them manage it better.

Although parents typically just want to help their student-athletes navigate the recruiting process, sometimes becoming overly involved as “helicopter parents” can negatively impact their student-athlete’s experience. Here are some important things parents should know before starting the recruiting process to help them manage it better. 

Majority of potential recruits have to take part in a lengthy recruiting process to ensure they find the right college fit, athletically, academically, socially and financially. Parents are a big part of the process — often a bigger part than they think they are — and will come across several obstacles during the recruiting journey of their athlete. But what are some of those obstacles? Read up to find out what you’ll face during the college recruiting process.

Letting the athlete do the talking

Parents play a big role in their child’s life, but when it comes to recruiting, it is important that they take a step back. Choosing a college is something that affects many aspects of a student-athlete’s life, and they should be making a choice that they are comfortable with. Helicopter parents make the recruiting process harder for student-athletes if the child makes a choice that isn’t truly their own. It can be difficult for parents to let their child take the lead, since they want to do everything they can to help their athletes succeed, but coaches recommend that parents shouldn’t be over involved in the process. 

Student-athletes need to know how to effectively communicate with college coaches. They also need to research schools to make sure it is the best fit academically and athletically. Parents should act more like managers than agents. That means helping athletes meet important deadlines and keeping them on track throughout the process but not performing every minor task or speaking for them. This can be difficult to do, but allowing your athlete to make a decision on what school is the best fit helps them increase analytical and communication skills.

Overall, parents can talk to coaches during the recruiting process, but they should know when to speak up and when to let their child do the decision making.

Keeping your athlete on track academically

There is a lot that goes on during the recruiting process. Nice uniforms, beautiful campuses and the thought of being on their own can cause an athlete to put academics on the back burner. That’s why it’s important for parents to keep them on track academically, as they will be severely limited in their college options if they let their grades slip or don’t consider academic factors in their college selection. 

To maximize your athlete’s scholarship opportunities at the Division 1 level, aim for being in the top 10 percent of their graduating class, earning a cumulative GPA of 3.5 out of 4.0 and achieving an SAT score of 1200 or an ACT sum score of 105. Research ACT/SAT test prep materials and help your athlete get enrolled before the deadline. Also, be sure to research the academic requirements of schools your athlete is interested in ahead of time. All this can help your athlete’s chances of receiving an offer.

Understanding key deadlines and rules

There are important dates that vary from sport to sport and rules about when college coaches can contact you and when you can visit colleges, among other things. Parents should try to stay on top of the NCAA updates so that their athlete can always be on track. Fortunately, NCSA offers a wealth of valuable resources, including our guide to NCAA recruiting rules and personal assistance from our recruiting specialists when you join the NCSA network. 

Setting realistic expectations

Chances are that your student-athlete is interested in competing for a Division 1 program. It’s the biggest stage in college sports, after all. However, Division 1 is very competitive and there may be better choices available for your athlete. Keeping options open and considering schools across all division levels may lead to a better fit academically and athletically. 

Finding the right college fit

Student-athletes tend to transfer schools and risk acquiring more debt, as well as delaying graduation when they didn’t truly find the right fit. Finding the right fit academically is hard enough, and adding sports increases the challenge. Transferring schools is often avoided when a student-athlete has made a decision on a school that they are in love with. This is why coaches encourage parents not to make a decision for the student-athlete.

Getting evaluated by college coaches

These days, parents are involved in the college decision-making process more than ever — and coaches are taking notice. “Coaches want to evaluate both the student-athlete and their parents,” says JC Field, a former Division I baseball coach. “We want to know their strengths because a lot of the time we can assume their student-athlete has similar strengths.”

That’s why college coaches make sure to meet parents and observe their conversations and behavior in the stands. For coaches, extending an offer is a family decision, so the more they know about the parents, the more they know about the student-athlete. First impressions mean a lot and parents should know that they are being evaluated as well. Coaches don’t want to have to worry about parents hovering over a student-athlete once they’re on the roster. 

There’s a lot more to learn about how parents can help during the college recruiting process, but this at least offers a good start. For more help on your college recruiting process, join NCSA today.


NCSA is the world's largest and most successful collegiate athletic recruiting network. A wholly owned subsidiary of Reigning Champs LLC, NCSA's 700 teammates leverage exclusive data, proprietary matching algorithms and personal relationships built over nearly two decades as the industry leader to connect tens of thousands of college-bound student-athletes to more than 35,000 college coaches nationwide across 34 sports every year.

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