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College recruitment during the COVID-19 pandemic: A guide for parents

This is an unprecedented time for everyone. Our players have had their seasons taken away and are nervous about their futures. As coaches and parents, it's important that we provide them with reassuring guidance, and help them make some progress on their college search. 

Due to recent NCAA regulation changes, families can utilize this time to get a handle on the process. Here are a few steps you can take while your player is stuck inside, wondering how to move forward in the college recruitment process. 

Step 1: College conversations

If you haven't done so already, now is a good time to initiate a conversation with your player  about their interests. Here are a few questions to get the ball rolling:

  • What do you want to study in college? (They don't have to know exactly, but try to go over a few ideas. For example, if your child is good with numbers, do they want to study accounting? Engineering? It's time to brainstorm!)   
  • What kind of activities do you enjoy? (There is no sense in looking at a place that does not offer what they are interested in.) 
  • Do you prefer cities, suburbs, or rural settings? (If your child loves outdoor activities like hiking or hunting, they won't be happy in the middle of a major city. On the other hand, maybe they' re looking for a change. Now is the time to talk about it.)

You'll also want to  talk about distance from home, size of school and class sizes, and level of academic rigor that your student athlete can handle. 

Step 2: College research

Once you've established some of your player's interests and preferences, have them take a look at colleges that have their interests as majors and classes. Go to the websites of the schools you have focused on, look around on their main pages and make sure you like what you see! On the athletics page, you'll want to find the lacrosse program and look at the philosophy and culture. What type of culture do the coaches create? Do players live that out? In our system, we are nurturing native youth in traditional play. Will this school and program appreciate and encourage that? Also, look at the school itself. Is there an Indigenous Studies program? Do native players do well at this school?

Step 3: College choices

Have your player make a list of their top 10 colleges and rank them. You might be surprised at what they come up with!  Go over this list with your child and talk about what they might expect in the process. (We're working on some info to help you do just that--stay tuned!) 

Step 4: College contacts

The players should be working on their highlight reels. College coaches have a great deal of time on their hands right now. They are not allowed to visit recruits, host recruits or work with their own players. In other words, they have time to watch our player highlights. So nag your kids to get their videos ready!

On most team pages there is a link for recruits to contact the college or fill out a questionnaire. Your player will need to fill this out. 

The questionnaire usually includes:

  • Player name and contact information
  • Player high school and coach contact info
  • Player club team name and coach contact information
  • Parent name and contact information
  • SAT/ ACT scores if available
  • GPA
  • Link to highlight reel

Some will ask other questions, but the above are the basics that all will ask.

Filling out this questionnaire will get you on the program list for camps and prospect days. NCAA rules apply, so sophomores cannot get a personal response, but seniors and juniors can be talking to the coaches directly.

Once your player fills out the questionnaire, it's a good idea to email each coach individually. The email should be a personal email to the coach using their name. The email should not use slang or text language. It should be in your child's own words and explain who they play for (school and clubs) and what sparked their interest in the college they are emailing.  It is an opportunity for your player to show who they are as a person to the coaches. Include a copy of transcripts and highlight reels.

Step 5: Breathe! 

Before you panic about your child's opportunities and how they will be affected by this pandemic situation, remember that everyone is going through this. Everyone will have to adjust to this new normal while it lasts, and during the repercussions afterward. Not only student athletes and parents, but coaches, admission, and recruitment professionals. 

Right now is the time to slow down and focus on mindfully navigating this process with your player. Listen and learn about what they need, and reassure them about the future. This may be one of the last times your child needs your help for a big decision. Even with our current situation, college will be here before you know it.  

The Iroquois Nationals Development Group Academic Mentoring Team is currently building online resources to help native players access recruiting information, tutoring, and mentoring. Stay tuned for more information!

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