You’ve done some initial research and had some contact with a few colleges that you are
interested in. Every program is different, and coaches will have different ideas about the recruiting process. Here are some general guidelines to consider when you get closer to making a decision about where you will be going to college.
1. Official Visits
|SDSU men's head coach Lev Kirshner
An official visit is a when you are invited on campus by an athletic program. Every program has a different budget, but most schools will pay for your travel costs, lodging, and meals, as well as some reasonable entertainment on your official visit. You will have a student host, who will be in charge of getting you acquainted with the team and the school. You will likely stay overnight on campus in the dorms. You can attend a class with your student host. You can watch the team train. You can be in the locker room with the team before a home game. Official visits can last up to 48 hours, and are the best way to get a feel for what it would be like to be part of the soccer program at that school.
You can only take an official visit after the first day of classes in your senior year of high school. As a recruit, the NCAA only allows you to take five total official visits to DI or DII schools. You can take an unlimited number of official visits to D3 schools, but you can’t take an official visit to any particular D3 school more than once. Because you are limited in the number of official visits you can take, you should be selective. If there is a school that you are interested in that is local, or to which you have a personal connection (a close friend or sibling who attends), it might be a good idea to take an unofficial visit instead.2. Unofficial Visits
An unofficial visit is similar to an official visit. The main difference is that you’ll make the travel and lodging arrangements on your own, and you will pay for any expenses. You also do not need to be a senior in high school to make an unofficial visit. If you live close to a college, or can stay with a friend or sibling overnight, expenses can be pretty minimal. You can let the coach know that you will be visiting, and he may invite you to watch a practice, meet the team, take a tour, etc. You can still get a great feel for the school by taking an unofficial visit. And he NCAA does not limit the number of unofficial visits you make.
3. Follow Up After a Visit
|UCSD's Jared Kukura
Photo Courtesy Jimmy Gekas
Depending on the coach, some visits will end with a conversation about where you stand as a recruit. A coach might make you an offer of some sort. You might be offered a scholarship, a roster spot, a redshirt, or a walk-on opportunity. Some coaches might ask for a verbal commitment that you will attend their school the next fall. Some coaches will prefer to let some time pass before making an offer. Either way, it’s a good idea to check in by phone or email after a visit to say thanks and keep the conversation going.4. Tryouts and Walking-On
If you haven’t received any offers at all, or haven’t received an offer from the one school that you know you want to attend, contact the coach about the possibility of a tryout, or walking-on. If you are able to get into a school on your own, most coaches will let you know what you options are for the fall season. Although it is rare, some schools will allow for open tryouts in the fall. Some coaches will ask you to join the team in the offseason on an extended trail basis. Most coaches will only allow a select few walk-ons to tryout during the fall pre-season, so it’s definitely a good idea to contact the coach if you are planning on attending a school on your own academic admission.