Should You Use an Athletic Recruiting Service?

scales with time and money represent athletic recruiting serviceAs students and parents start to wade into the college athletic recruiting process, they’ll soon see all kinds of advertisements, websites, and offers from athletic recruiting services. All promise to help you with getting an athletic scholarship because, they’ll tell you, they have access to people and information that you don’t. And as the wading starts to feel like drowning as parents begin to realize how much college costs and how many colleges are actually out there, paying for a recruiting service doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.

Is it?

Reasons to Use a College Athletic Recruiting Service

Not necessarily. Like all things, it’s a trade-off between time and money. The basic fact is that anyone can get recruited without paying one of the many available athletic recruiting services. There are plenty of examples, just visit www.hsbaseballweb.com or the athletes forum on College Confidential.

But while it’s definitely possible, it’s not always easy. There are reasons why families use athletic recruiting services and are happy with them because they offer valuable services for the family. The question you have to answer is if such services are valuable to you.

Many families use athletic recruiting services because they aren’t familiar with the recruiting process and don’t have the time or inclination to educate themselves. Others use them because it reduces conflict between the parents and the player. These are both legitimate reasons to use a service.

What’s important to realize is that there is more than one way to go through the process. I’ve seen websites that have quotes from college coaches who swear that the recruiting service is all that the use. And I’ve read in books on recruiting that college coaches are just irritated by athletic recruiting services. Some promise personal attention from college coaches through showcase camps while others knowingly inform you that coaches never discover anyone at camps.

Let’s face it, it’s all marketing to separate you from your dollars.

Calculating the ROI on Using a College Athletic Recruiting Service

It’s basically a question of whether or not the athletic recruiting services are worth the cost to you. And it’s very important not to be misled in terms of cost and benefits.

What am I talking about? “The service is worth it since players received an average of $25,000 in scholarship money a year!” Well, who wouldn’t trade a couple of thousands of dollars for $100,000 over four years?

Except you need to find out if that $25,000 was athletic money. If it was to a D3 school, it obviously wasn’t and D3 is the largest category of colleges for most sports.

Many private colleges award significant grants (money that doesn’t have to be paid back) based on the students Expected Family Contribution (EFC).  They also award merit money to students with high grades and test scores. Neither of these have to do with athletic scholarships. Are they included in the $25,000?

Then there’s the question does the average include all sports? Players in headcount sports such as basketball and football are going to average a lot more money than those playing in equivalency sports such as baseball.

These are important issues because if the amount of athletic aid is relatively small, it changes the equation.

Wait a minute, you say, even $5,000 a year over four years is still worth the cost of the service. Maybe.

But what if the student chooses to attend another college that awarded better need or merit aid? The student could have $25,000 from school A with an athletic scholarship and $25,000 from school B without a scholarship.

Is the cost of the service still worth it?

It might be if the service helped the player find both colleges A and B and both coaches are interested in having him on the team.

Nothing’s ever simple is it?

What to Expect

For what it’s worth, my impression from people who have used recruiting services and posted their experience on various forums, found them to be valuable but wouldn’t use them again because now they know what to expect. In other words, they paid to be educated and felt the price was worth the education. This also means that they realize that any claims that they couldn’t do it without the service or would at least be severely handicapped, aren’t true.

And while athletic recruiting services can be useful, they aren’t miracle workers. They can’t change three years of poor grades in high school, low test scores, or a poor work ethic or attitude. They may affect these things going forward but dealing with what is done is at best damage control.

If you’re going to use a recruiting service, make sure that you find out exactly what they’re providing. The following are some questions you might ask during that free phone consultation.

Questions to ask an athletic recruiting service

How many players have they placed in your sport and in which colleges? If the players seem to be going to a limited group or type of college, you better be interested in attending those colleges.

How will the service identify appropriate colleges? Are they going to simply email your information to every college baseball program in the country? If they are going to target the schools, what criteria are they using for targeting? How many schools will be targeted? How do they know which colleges are looking for players at your position? Do they ever contact coaches on your behalf?

How are they going to get information from you to send to the coach? How much video will they edit and where will it be accessible? Will you be able to download a copy for yourself or will the service control access?

Will the service create an athletic profile for you? What information will it include?

In both the cases of the video and the profile, do they send it out or do you send it out?

Will the service help you fill out the FAFSA for financial aid? Will they provide you with the estimated average net price for the targeted schools and the percentage of need met?

Who will you contact if you have questions? Will you be able to call them? How often?

How often can you update your information? If they have a web database, can you edit it? Can you add your own video and pictures? Will the service send updates to the coaches or will you?

If anyone has any other questions to add, please let me know! I didn’t use a service so I’m only going by other people’s experiences.

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