Managing Temporary Setbacks in College Recruiting

By: Tom Kovic


Managing Temporary Setbacks in College Recruiting

The college recruiting process can be a daunting effort if it is not well planned and executed with organization and enthusiasm from start to finish. Also, one’s mental approach to the college search, especially when checkered with roadblocks, can make the difference between a fair and a great experience.

What follows is a “snapshot” of how prospects and families can proactively prepare for and effectively manage personal setbacks that will undoubtedly surface along the way.

College recruiting roadblocks come in different shapes and sizes. Whether it is a direct communication from Coach to inform you his athletic scholarships have been exhausted, or a difficult phone call to tell you that you just don’t have what it takes to impact his team, a good college coach will be honest and forthcoming with prospects and families.

If you happen to be that blue-chip athlete that most coaches have high on the radar, your recruiting effort will likely have fewer barriers. Conversely, if you are the prospect who sits in the “mid-pack” of athletes where recruiting is brutally competitive’ you will need to prepare better and more effectively to rise above the rest.

As a college advisor for athletes, I use many exercises to help my families organize for the best and prepare for the worst. Presenting yourself as a worthy candidate needs to be at the top of your recruiting “to do” list and this can be accomplished in many ways.

Developing an easy to read portfolio, streaming an eye-catching highlight clip, or by cultivating a stable relationship with a college coach are just a few examples. By cultivating distinct techniques in presenting yourself to college coaches, you can determine the level of “grip” your recruiting effort will have.

Develop Thick Skin

OK. You have brilliantly crafted your recruiting plan, and you are regularly providing the coaches with academic, athletic and personal updates, and you have made an unofficial visit to campus. You are feeling confident about the effort you have made, and you’re optimistic it will have some impact. Unfortunately, this is 50% of the battle. The next question is simple…How does Coach view me?

There are going to be some tough questions you will eventually present college coaches, especially when it comes to roster availability, admissions support and scholarship availability. Before you jump in, I suggest you first develop some “tough skin.”

Compare the recruiting process to a job interview, and I think you’ll see my point. If you have lined up 10 job interviews and they all go brilliantly, do you think you will receive 10 offers? Like the company’s you will eventually interview with, the college coaches are looking for specific candidates to fit specific roles.

If a college coach must communicate disappointing news to a prospect, do not take it personally. Considering the volume of recruits that coaches are cultivating, they need to develop a filtering system that will help them trim down their list to a more manageable grouping. A good college coach will be upfront with families and offer truthful and honest information from start to finish.

Letting go and moving forward

When you receive that phone call from Coach explaining that you will no longer be part of the active list of recruits, you have to be able to accept it and move forward. There is no doubt that this can be a frustrating moment, but the prospect that can “take it,” saddle up and re-center, will have a greater chance in grabbing that brass ring.

Where one family may see a negative experience as devastating; another family will see it as an opportunity. One prospect might break down from bad news, while another athlete will rise-up, a little sturdier, with a bit more drive and determination to move on.

For most prospects and families, the college search will not be a straight line or a downhill run in finding that right college match. In some cases, it will be a struggle and, in that struggle, will be hurdles to cross, but intangible life lessons to be learned. In the end, and with a proper and realistic approach, the right match is out there and waiting for you to snatch.

Tom Kovic is a former Division I college coach and the founder/lead advisor at Victory Collegiate Consulting (, where he provides advisement and counseling for prospective student-athletes and families in preparing for the college search.

Copyright © 2018  Victory Collegiate Consulting. All Rights Reserved.

College Athletics Recruiting And Navigating Financial Aid

By: Tom Kovic



By Tom Kovic

Financial aid is an essential component for many families to consider as they move forward in the college athletics recruiting process. College costs continue to increase, and the family that makes a concerted effort in developing financial aid planning as part of their overall college recruiting plan will have a greater chance of gaining a manageable package.

Financial aid is readily available for families who qualify, based on need, merit or athletic ability. For those institutions that do not offer athletic scholarships, or where athletics aid is exhausted, there are cases where college coaches can assist families in getting a financial aid “pre-read.” These early evaluations can be constructive in offering a strong indication of what the family contribution will be in the first academic year of attendance.

The college coach is your “point person” here, and he/she can act as an indirect conduit to the office of financial aid to assist the family in a vital area of recruiting.


Financial aid pre-reads are in many cases a useful tool that many college coaches use as a means of providing prospects and their families with a “ballpark” figure as to what the family can expect to pay for a college education in the first year of attendance. It is crucial that the family request a pre-read early in the recruiting process, but not before sincere interest in the coach’s program has been established. The family should first determine the individual institution’s policy on providing financial aid pre-reads through direct communication with the college coach.

For a family to receive a timely and accurate financial aid pre-read, the following information is typically required:

•    Prior year income/business taxes with all W-2 forms.

•    Divorced/separated paperwork (if applicable).

•    Completed monthly budget worksheet (provided by the coach)

•    Admissions data (standardized test scores, class rank, etc.)

Turnaround time in completing the pre-read is roughly 2 weeks and this information should give parents a close estimate to what the family financial aid breakdown will be in the first year of college attendance. Note: financial aid packages can change from year to year based on changes to personal family finances.


Some institutions will attempt to “come in line” with financial aid offers from other institutions. Matching typically occurs in schools from the same conference, or similarly “select” schools. It is good to make a comparison, but out of respect for the college coaches, I encourage families to compare financial aid packages with those schools that are serious potential choices. Remember, the college coach is your “go to guy” in this process, and clear and timely communication will facilitate the process!


Most institutions offer “internal scholarships” where prospective student-athletes could be looked at favorably. Research the colleges on your radar for all institutionally related scholarships (academic, community, etc.), especially leadership grants, which seem to be gaining popularity. These awards are typically selective and reward the “cream of the crop,” prospective student-athlete and those prospects with substantial financial need. Communicate your financial aid concerns with the college coach, who may recommend potential candidates for consideration of these awards.

Families should feel comfortable sharing any outside offers or completed financial aid pre-reads from other institutions and determine where your child ranks in the coach’s recruit priority list. If the prospect is considered a “blue chip” athlete and the school of interest does not offer athletic scholarships, carefully probe the coach’s feeling about asking the office of financial aid to take a hard look at the family’s request to determine if there are any options to possibly “sweeten the pot.”

The four-year college experience is a tremendous investment in our children’s future. The premium for a quality college education are seemingly heading “north,” and I strongly suggest that families begin preparing for this vital component of college recruiting early and with enthusiasm.

Tom Kovic is a former Division I college coach and the Founder/ Principal Advisor at Victory Collegiate Consulting, where he provides individual advisement for families navigating the college recruiting process. For further information visit:    

Copyright 2018 Victory Collegiate Consulting

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