Now that my son has completed athletic recuriting, I'm posting the process and some specifics for other parents to read and gain a greater understanding of the recruiting process. We (my husband and I) pieced together information from the blogs of college confidential and from talking to the boys and parents we knew who recently went through the process. That was helpful, but my aim is to make this a one stop shop for those currently going through the process.
Timeline: Junior Year:
1) We had a formal meeting with my son's football coach to help determine which schools would be a good fit - we determined his options would be Ivy, Patriot League, Nescac (& other high academic DIII like Johns Hospkins and U. Chicago).
2) Contacted 20-25 schools in all of the above conferences via recruiting web sites and sending a personal email to the head coach or recruiting coach. Began dialogue with many of these coaches. Reaction: anything from direct communication (phone calls), to silence (no communication at all)
3) Completed ACT testing
4) Participated in several camps: Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Penn - In my opinion it's not necessary to go to all as some schools go to all the camps but, Johns Hopkins only goes to Penn Camp, U Chicago only goes to Harvard Camp. The beauty of these camps is you get to meet the coaches your son has been emailing so they can put a name with a face.
Timeline: Senior Year:
He was made several offers after the camps and settled on one school (NESCAC) which he applied ED1 and was accepted.
What we learned in the process:
IVY - academic index is important, but the coaches are most interesed in the following: finding players who are D1 material and from football powerhouse schools in CA, FL, TN, OH, PA. You can be a superior player from a small high school in a state which isn't considered to have the hottest football talent at the top of the academic index and it still doesn't matter. IVY coaches have a profile of the player that they want and it's the best athlete they can get into the school from a top football school. My son had a lot of communication with 2 IVYs (one came to visit him at school in the spring), but it didn't go anywhere after August. Another thing to understand is that the IVYs may restrict which major/school you apply for if you go there and you are obligated to participate in spring football practices so you cannot do a semester abroad.
Johns Hopkins, Carnegie Mellon, MIT - the most important thing is the SAT/ACT score. We were told by the coaches at JHU that there was wiggle room on grades , but the ACT had to be at least a 30. JHU is great if your son wants to go to medical school or be an engineer. Most of the boys apply regualr decision. Carnegie Mellon's coach told us 30 is on the low side for the ACT. MIT coaches are at the Harvard camp and told my son they were looking for boys who had the same grades and scores as their typically accepted students.
U. Chicago: they recruit the latest on the timeline. If they are interested in you they will have you apply early action. You will be deferred. They schedule you to do a visit in Dec/Jan and make offers after that. They are a little looser on the scores than JHU, etc.
NESCAC: each has different academic standards and some are test optional. They look for athletes that were pursued by the IVY league and weren't picked up. We ended up thinking this was the best place for our son. He would have been happy and at any one of these schools, but academically one ended up being a really great fit.
Patriot League: lowers the academic standards so they can get better players. You have to go to their individual camps to get in front of them because they don't go to the IVY camps.
Biggest Takeaway: Cast a really wide net. People told us to focus on 4-5 schools. In my opinion that is not enough. We had to go through a lot of schools in the recruting process. Be agnostic to the process - there is a whole lot of rejection that goes on so it's important to look at many different places. If you have that attitude you will get several good offers and you will have choices. In general, in our experience, the coaches who were most honest were the NESCAC coaches. IVY gives a likely letter as does JHU and U Chicago. You need to hear the NESCAC coach say the following: "I will offer my full support." Anything else might not result in an acceptance.
I hope this helps. Good luck to all of you in your academic and athletic endeavors!