Going to college is one of the biggest steps in anyone’s life. Because people are aware of this, and there are so many variables, deciding on a college can be incredibly hard.
And, when you finally decide on your ideal college, you might not get accepted.
With all this in mind, students need to market themselves in a way that makes them appealing during the college recruiting process, especially if they’re student athletes.
As times progress, marketing yourself takes on a new meaning. It’s no longer sufficient to write a letter and wait for a reply. You must be more proactive than that.
Here are some reasons why student athletes should be actively marketing themselves, as well as some helpful tips for doing just that.
Why Is it Important for Student Athletes to Market Themselves?
Some colleges have to go out of their way to attract students. But others are in such high demand that the tables are turned, and students must become the salesperson.
This is definitely the case with NCAA colleges, such as Louisiana State University, the University of Iowa, and the University of Notre Dame.
Because these colleges receive so many applications, it’s extremely important that a student separates his or herself from the crowd. You want to be much more than just a name on a piece of paper to them. You need to be a flesh-and-blood human being with something to offer.
This is especially true for student athletes, who have an extra identity on top of their role as a student. Not only do they have a grade-point average, attendance record, and volunteer work to show – but student athletes have their game statistics to flaunt, as well.
In this world of data and mass-communication, it’s up to every individual to put forward his or her best self in the digital world. Unlike in the past, the digital world is where you’re going to have the most connections with others.
How Should Student Athletes Go About Marketing Themselves?
When it comes to college recruiting, marketing yourself might sound narcissistic, but just as when you’re applying for a job, a little narcissism is necessary. Just make sure it doesn’t become a habit.
To impress an employer, you need to be able to recognize your best attributes and put them on full display to truly create a positive impression and make them remember you! It’s no different with student athletes and colleges.
Here are some of the best ways that a student athlete can present themselves to attract colleges:
1. Have a Professional Instagram
This one might sound like a joke to parents, but Instagram has actually managed to be an influential player in people’s lives, especially young people.
Young people might not grasp that people who aren’t their friends, such as college recruiters and employers, might take it upon themselves to peruse a prospective student or employee’s digital footprint.
For this reason, it’s incredibly important that there’s no juvenile or inappropriate material anywhere to be found. Pictures on Instagram should all be tasteful and mature . In other words, if you wouldn’t show it to grandma, don’t show it to strangers.
Even better, your Instagram should paint a positive picture of who you are, in terms of your interests and goals. It should be an extension of yourself that’s both impressive and educational, so colleges can get a sense of your personality.
This rule also extends to the other social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter.
2. Make Sure the School Knows They Are Your First Choice
Nobody likes to feel like a second choice, and this is true for colleges, as well.
For this reason, it’s vital that you communicate how important getting into their college is to you. Explain why you’ve chosen this particular school over all the others. There must be a reason, even if you’re not quite cognizant of it.
Even if the school isn’t your first choice, don’t let them know that. Make them feel like they’ll be fulfilling your biggest wish, not taking in a depressed student who couldn’t get into the college he or she wanted.
This goes beyond hurting their feelings – colleges don’t want their students to drop out or transfer without getting a degree, as this doesn’t look good on the school’s resume. If students and parents see that a lot of students transfer from the college, it will lose much of its appeal. So, if they think you might not stay, they will be less likely to accept you in the first place.
3. Extracurricular Activities Can Push You Over the Edge
Even though you’re already playing sports, which is a time-consuming extra-curricular activity, you’re going to want to partake in as many others as possible.
This shows colleges that you’re not content with being idle. You need to create the impression that you’re a hard worker and have a philanthropic heart. And, hopefully, you do! But, telling the colleges this too directly can sometimes sound arrogant, if it’s not done with incredible deftness.
With that in mind, this is where social media comes back into the picture. Instead of your accounts being used to post a picture of your friends acting like fools or long rants about something silly, fill your accounts with positive energy.
Imagine a college recruiter visiting another student’s Facebook and finding all sorts of nonsense. Then, the recruiter goes to your Facebook and sees you volunteering at the local homeless shelter.
Even if your grades might be a little lower than the other person’s, a college recruiter might factor in your superior character and choose you.
4. Put Together a Highlight Reel
No matter what sport you’re playing, having a highlight reel is tantamount in college recruiting.
The video doesn’t have to be fancy or of a high production value, so mom or dad can do the filming. Some sports, like football, already have a film that is used for studying and your coach will gladly give you a copy if you ask.
This video is important because it shows what stats don’t. There are certain attributes that simply can’t be found in numbers. For instance, perseverance and sportsmanship can attract coaches even more than rushing yards or batting averages.
For the most success, make sure your reel is edited together well and maybe has a little flair to it. Not only will this make it more watchable, but it will show your coaches that you put 110% into everything you do, on the field and off.
If you don’t know anything about editing, you could try giving it to a friend who does editing. If this person is trying to get into film school, then you can both use the same reel to exemplify your abilities. Standing on each other’s shoulders is a sure way to get to the top. If that doesn’t work for you, Nadeau Sports Recruting can edit your clips into one attractive video.
Other than a reel, there are also websites that allow student athletes to build a profile around their achievements. Think of it as a three-dimensional resume. Instead of relying on a boring piece of paper to sell yourself, you can set up an online page with your picture, graphics, stats, and yes – even videos.
The Modern World: Everything’s About Data in College Recruiting
When you’re in the process of applying to colleges and marketing yourself, there’s one thing you should keep in mind.
Because everything is online these days, and there’s enough data to fill every corner of the cosmos, colleges have begun making use of this online data when scouting for potential students.
Many colleges are now utilizing similar algorithms to Amazon and Netflix when recommending films or products you might be interested in. In other words, colleges are tracking your online behavior, compiling that data, and using it to pinpoint specific kinds of students.
At first, this might sound nefarious, but this is – fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your point of view – the new normal. So, again, be sure that any public data on you is positive.
Don’t Be Afraid to Promote Yourself
Almost everything about the digital landscape is about promoting yourself and it’s no different when it comes to college recruiting.
When you’re a child, it’s about putting forth the image that will make you most attractive to your friends and others your age. But as you grow up, your ambitions need to evolve beyond your schoolyard posse and into the world of adults.
This means having a tasteful online presence that spotlights your personality, ambitions, and extra-circular activities. Because schools are using online data in their submissions process more than they ever have before, your online presence is unfathomably significant.
Again, while it might seem like a small thing, you’ll also want to make sure the college feels like it’s wanted. Colleges are interested in educating people who want to be there, not bestowing charity on young people who didn’t get into their favorite school.
For student athletes, if there’s anything to take away from this, it’s that grades and SAT scores are only part of the equation.
There’s also a marketing aspect that may be the tipping point for getting into the college of your dreams. So be sure you utilize it.