The Truth ... Recruiting is not the same game it was when we (parents) were in high school. Offers are being made sooner each year which means many student-athletes are being forced into the recruiting process earlier in their high school career and not by choice. The top players are being made offers in their sophomore years, which is - quite frankly, RIDICULOUS. What college coach can honestly say that their college is right for a 15 year old child? They can't! They can say they want that kid to play in their program, they can say they want to coach that kid and that they do not want that kid to go to their rival school – but they cannot say that their school or program is the right fit for a 15 year old boy or girl. He/she hasn’t had time to evaluate schools, coaching staffs, majors, facilities, distance from home, climate and so much more. The student-athlete has not had time to even discover who they are or what they want in a college. There is so much development still to come for that child on so many different levels. The only good thing to come out of the coaches being so aggressive early is that it is forcing more kids and their parents to get proactive, get online and seek out opportunities as early as their freshman year – so for me as a college planner – that's a good thing - but the hysteria and lack of factual information that comes with this early start has become a major problem.
Let's agree that college coaches have a job to do - to recruit the best possible players for their program, make sure their opponents do not get players that could beat them and just win baseball games. If we can agree on that - now lets forget these coaches and remember, this is a process and not a pre-arranged marriage. Hopefully we all agree that you should take your time, get to know your bride/groom and when both parties are extremely confident it is right – a proposal is made. Why is the college selection process not handled even remotely in the same fashion? You are entering into a “commitment” that will have at least a 40 year impact on your life with a value of more than a quarter of a million dollars – but for some reason people believe there is no need to look around and find the best possible option. This makes absolutely no sense to me. A 15 year old boy takes more time (in most cases) choosing his next phone than what the best college is for him. Think about that! I have no research to document this but I would bet if you asked 10 freshman or sophomores in high school to tell us the pros and cons of 3-5 different phones - and the location, level of play and head coaches name at 3-5 different colleges - he will have much more information on the phone than the college.
Want some good advice ---> start early but slow down – understand your child - listen to your child - evaluate all opportunities out there. You are purchasing a college education – you are not seeking an athletic scholarship. If that is your mentality then you really need to go back and read up on how this process really works. This is a huge decision and a poor decision can be a financial disaster that will stay with your child for decades. This does not mean hold out for the largest scholarship – rather it means take your time – put great opportunities in front of your child based on who HE is and choose the very best opportunity for your child based on all that are presented to him.
What happens to that 16 year old child who “verbally committed” to a college coach in his junior year and now that coach is no longer at the college. (Look below at the NCAA Division I college coaching changes) ... remember the coach is certainly important and has an opportunity to make a huge impact on your life but the name on your degree will be yours and the colleges - not the head baseball coach!