Athletic Pre-Read/Early Read

My D is a rising senior and is hoping to play a varsity sport in college after her high school graduation. Earlier this past spring, my D started reaching to some D3 coaches at D3 schools that my D thought would be good academic fit. Many of the D3 schools that my D matches well with academically are T30 schools.

Many of other coaches my D contacted responded with my D needing to up her ranking in her sport before my D could be considered to be an athletic recruit and/or did not respond at all (which we took for having no interest). Recently, some of the coaches have requested that my D submit her grades, test scores and school profile for a “pre-read” or “early read.” Academically, these schools appear to be matches or slight reaches, regardless of whether or not my D is an athlete.

We expect any pre-read/early read to turn out positive for my daughter. My question is what is the significance, if any, of a pre-read/early read? Do coaches offer this to all interested prospective athletes? Does an offer for a pre-read/early read mean that the student will become a recruited athlete (assuming the pre-read/early read comes out positive)? What level of interest from a coach does a pre-read/early read signify?

We come from a family with no experience in college athletic recruiting and/or playing a varsity sport in college. Thus, this is all new to us as a family and for my D.

Any insight would be very much appreciated.


Some coaches can submit a large number of athletes for pre-reads while other schools limit the number. A coach is only going to have pull or slots to tips or nods (they all call it something different) for a certain number of freshmen coming in. If he gets 10 approved thru pre reads, he still might not have 10 slots.

You don’t have anything to lose at this point. See if she can get a pre read and then continue on the path to see if that’s the school she wants.

This will vary a bit by program but generally:

Coaches will communicate with a large pool of potential athletes.

They’ll narrow that to a smaller pool and request pre reads for that group. (Some schools limit coaches to x# of pre reads; others less so. Some coaches like to keep the pool as large as possible; others less so).

From those who pass the pre read they’ll narrow to those they want to invite for a visit. (Some coaches might skip this step and offer admissions support right after the pre read; this would usually be for the top athletes).

From those they invite for a visit, after the visit they’ll narrow to those for whom they offer formal admissions support (if applicable). Usually those athletes are expected to apply EA/ED but not always.

So, for example, maybe a coach starts out talking to 50, requests Pre reads for 20, invites 10 for visits, offers slots to 2-3. Those are made up numbers but the general idea applies.

For your daughter, the pre read is a great sign that things are moving along but it is just one step. I’d keep reaching out to coaches at schools of interest and keep the net cast fairly wide at this point. It’s possible none of the pre reads will turn into offers of support; or each one of them might.

ETA: every coach is different, so it’d be a good idea for your daughter to work a discussion of the recruiting process into conversations with coaches: what kind of support can they give recruits, how meaningful is it, what’s their timeline for making those decisions, etc. Most coaches will explain these things but make sure your daughter knows that the process isn’t necessarily the same everywhere. Take notes.

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Thanks polite and two.

In the initial emails that my D sent to the coaches, my D included an athletic resume and recruiting video. My D has been diligent in staying in touch with and reaching out every 2-3 weeks to the coaches who have expressed initial interest in my D.

4 schools who have expressed interest in my D in the form of pre-reads are from schools that my D has strong interest in attending and are selective in terms of academics. My D would appear to be a middle of pack athlete for these programs (not a top recruit and not a bench warmer either).

My D has actually visited 2 of these schools already and had plans to visit the other 2 schools (which had to be canceled because of the COVID-19 situation). The COVID-19 situation has limited my D’s opportunities to have any coaches watch my D compete or play her sport in person at a showcase or some other event. I am sure other prospective student athletes are going through the same scenario.

Does a pre-read typically mean that the coach has gotten comfortable with a prospects potential athletic contribution to their program? And is ready to review my D’s academic record purely for admissibility? Assuming a positive pre-read, what happens next?

One of the coaches told my daughter that his most important question when recruiting an athlete is academic admissibility.

I don’t think they’d waste their time with a pre read if there is zero chance they want your daughter. But where she stands on their recruiting board is hard to know. They should let her know the rest of the process after the pre read. As you mention, it might be different this year due to Covid and related restrictions. But usually that would be an invitation to visit and/or a discussion of admissions support.

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Thanks polite.

You feedback summed up our question of where does our D stand on the coaches recruiting board and if athletic recruiting process will be different this year due to the COVID-19 situation.

Also do D3 schools usually offer recruiting trips? We were under the impression that recruiting trips were provided by D1 and D2 schools

Does a pre-read typically mean that the coach has gotten comfortable with a prospects potential athletic contribution to their program? And is ready to review my D’s academic record purely for admissibility? Assuming a positive pre-read, what happens next?

We are going through this right now too. Coaches from both schools asked for:
Transcripts from 9th grade-current
High School profile
Senior year course selection
List of EC’s
They requested test scores but know that she doesn’t have ACT/SAT test scores due to covid cancellations. Both are TO (one has been TO for a while and the other just for '21 grads)
The email emphasized NOT sending this to admissions directly so the coach can look at it before it becomes part of the permanent admissions file.

After we send this package they’ll take it to admissions for the pre read and if they get a yes then D21 will apply ED and get in. They assured us that if the coach uses their influence there’s a 99.5% chance she’ll get in, barring any crazy changes in grades during senior year.

Good Luck!

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A recruiting trip to a D3 is very rare. I paid for my daughter’s flight but the school gave her meals, a ticket to a game, and a nice hard floor to sleep on.

Not all D1 and D2 schools pay for the trip either. Daughter visited a D2 (and attended) and the school paid for our hotel room. The team was new to the school so there weren’t any team members for the recruits to stay with. Even in future years I don’t think recruits stayed with the team (coach was a little nuts). It was only 2.4 hours from home so we just drove down. The little group of recruits did have a meal in the dining room together, went to a soccer game, and hung out together on campus. It was a Sat/Sun visit, so no classes or professors to meet.

Just to clarify - you are talking about all D3 programs, right. The dead period for D1 and D2 was just extended until July 31st and hopefully not longer. No visit and no pre-reads for these 2 divisions until the dead period is lifted.

D3 schools may not offer paid recruiting trips - someone correct me if this is no longer valid. D3 schools can strongly encourage you to visit at your own expense (pre-covid) and even host a day for interested recruits to tour the school, meet the team and hangout. I know several D3 soccer programs are hosting Zoom “visits” with potential 2021 “recruits” and current players are on the call too for Q&A - I imagine other D3 sports are doing it as well.

For D3, even TO schools usually want their athletes to have scores and many athletes are advised to test in the Fall of their jr year. D3 schools also vary on their commitment for ED. It is important for your child to ask the coach that if they pass an official pre read - what is the % of his recruits are offered admission. Will asking for financial aid impact the decision and what do they think about not having a test score. If tests are available in the Fall - does the coach feel this candidate needs a score - if yes, what range ? Remember test optional does not need test blind.

A pre-read is a positive sign, but I still think a bit of a gamble without scores and if you are asking for financial assistance. If other applicants check all the boxes and can keep the school/team score ACT/SAT average high and are full pay.

There are several current strings on CC about recruiting and guessing you can search and gather a bit more info too. There is one called Test Optional and Athletic Recruiting. It sounds like your daughter is doing a great job with her communication - a lot of kids drop the ball - no pun intended :blush:

In my experience some D3 programs do invite recruits for visits at the recruit’s expense. This is in track though. Could be different in other sports. If a visit is available I’d take it as one can learn a lot at those. D1 official visits will usually be paid by the school but not always entirely, as was mentioned.

NCAA rules permit D3 schools to pay for official visits, but many leagues (i.e., NESCAC) are far more restrictive. The NESCAC permits paying for travel from a train station or airport to campus, but not a flight or bus ride in. Some schools permit coaches to pick up recruits at stations and drive them to campus.

Pre-reads are a necessary first step, but not a guarantee of the next step in recruiting. There will be more pre-reads requested than athletes supported by the coaches. A pre-read may come back without a green light, or an athlete may just be “shopping.” If a coach can support - say - five athletes and requests 25 pre-reads from the Adcom, then some athletes who get the green light still may not be supported. Also, remember the game of musical chairs that occurs when D1 recruit doesn’t get in somewhere and lands on a coach’s lap. That may jigger a coach’s priorities.

The key information to be discerned is how desirable the athlete is compared with the 24 other pre-reads. Ask the coach where you are on the list.

There can be a difference in pre-read terminology used by coaches as well.

Have the coaches said these are pre-reads with admissions staff, or are they just for the coaching staff at this point, so they can make their own first cuts and/or band placements?

Most coaches limit how many potential recruits they send to admissions for pre-reads.

In our experience with both D and S, the coaches will let their top athletic recruits know pretty early in the process where they stand. However, that was pre-COVID and test scores were available so I think they had a much better feel for admissions even before pre-reads. On the other hand, the dynamic has not changed that coaches ultimately can only support a limited number of recruits, so they are constantly ranking their lists. They are going to pursue their top recruits hard and then the game of musical chairs starts as most of the top recruits are being pursued by multiple schools, and once they choose a school, the other schools readjust their lists.

Your D should continue the dialogue, and it would not be “rude” for her to start asking the coaches where she stands on their lists a few weeks after she submits her pre-read package. For the most part they are fairly transparent, especially with the top part of their lists. If they are non-committal, that probably tells you something as well.

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Thanks for all of the great info.

My D is finalizing her list of about 10 colleges where she would like to attend. This list includes three D3 schools where my D would like to play her sport As a recruit and where she has received interest from coaches. The other schools on her list are schools where my D may try to walk on as an athlete (made up of some Ivies and a few D1 schools).

For my D’s pre-reads, my D is waiting for her final junior grades to be issued and waiting to re-take the ACT. My D took the ACT already at the beginning of her junior year and received a strong score. But my D thinks she can score a few points higher on the ACT now that her junior year is finished. We find it interesting that 2 of the schools that the my D is most interested in have such different ways of recruiting. One D3 school wants a simple pre-read with the coach and the AO once all of the grades and test scores are available, in addition to some recent practice videos. The other D3 schools wants the same info and has also invited my D to participate Zoom calls with former and current players. Both coaches have been very responsive to my D’s email correspondence, but the coaches seem to run their programs very differently.

We are planning to request financial aid to these D3 schools. We have heard that any financial aid would come in the form of a merit type scholarship since D3 schools can not offer athletic scholarships. When does the financial aid request come into play? Is the coach involved in a financial aid request? Can a coach assist with a merit scholarship or other financial aid request?

Also how does a coach show his/her “commitment” at a D3 school? Does a coach say that he/she will fully support a student admission and then the waiting game for admissions starts? Can the coach change his/her mind after a recruit submits his/her application (which could be disappointing for the kid in an ED scenario)?

Some D3 schools only offer need based aid and don’t offer any merit. So, at a need-based only school, athletes can not get more FA than other applicants with similar need (same goes for merit aid too).

Go to each school’s financial aid page to understand their process, and also run each school’s net price calculator to get an estimate of COA. Many schools will also do a financial aid pre-read, so ask about that.

Yes, you need to hear from a coach that they are fully supporting the recruit thru the admission process. This may require an app during ED, assuming a positive pre-read. Ask the coach what proportion of their recruits have historically been accepted under similar circumstances.

I don’t think there are many coaches who would pull support after the verbal agreement and ED application is submitted. That would be highly unusual, and coaches don’t want to risk unseemly behavior which would impact their ability to get good future recruits.

The wait until the acceptance ultimately comes can be excruciatingly long!

A list of the 10 schools might generate more helpful comments as specifics tend to be more informative & insightful than generalities.

If your daughter feels that she can score a “few” points higher on the ACT, her score may not be strong enough for the highest calibre of schools at which she is not an athletic recruit.

P.S. Your post #14 above presents the need for “financial aid” in a confusing & possibly incorrect manner.

Do you qualify for “need-based” financial aid ?

Or are you just seeking academic merit scholarship awards ?

Couple of things about aid. Don’t get fooled by talk about secret athletic money that is disguised as financial or merit aid. Remember these are D3 programs and they make no money from sports. These schools are unlikely to risk sanctions to slip a few bucks to any athlete. That having been said, some coaches will help athletes navigate the FA process or will be able to point athletes to available merit scholarships, especially if there are specially endowed ones (e.g. the XYZ scholarship for children of Coast Guard veterans) that your D might qualify for. They also can steer athletes to better campus jobs, like working in the library, where they get paid and have time to do schoolwork while on the job.

With all of this being said, if you need FA, by all means apply for it. However, be cognizant of whether the school is “need aware”. Recruits that are full pay will likely have an advantage over recruits that need to apply for aid in need aware schools. So in the situation where you do not need FA for a need aware school, but think this is a back door way to get money, you will be hurting your daughter’s attractiveness as a recruit relative to a full pay recruit of roughly equal talent and academics.

Publisher thanks for the feedback.

We will not qualify for need based FA, so we would be seeking merit based FA. Also you are correct in the schools that are on my D’s wishlist. These schools include many of the non-D3 T10 schools like Yale, northwestern, Harvard) as well as several highly selective D3 schools like WashU, NYU, UChicago, Hopkins, and MIT. Even a few points better for my D on her ACT would not guarantee admissions into these schools.

Mwfan, thanks for your feedback too. The D3 school my D is most interested where she can play her sport as a recruit is a T25 school and is also a school that my D should be able to gain admission into without athletics (based on my D’s current academic grades and scores and the D3 school’s admission figures). My D really likes this D3 school for its location, size, curriculum, etc. This school is one of only a few schools that has shown interest in my D as an athletic recruit. Honestly, if some of the higher ranked schools with similar qualities showed athletic interest in my D, then I think my D would have a more difficult time in making a decision on schools.

roelephantom = lack of specifics

Which is fine; but, it does affect the quality of the advice which you will receive.