7 Survival Tips for College Recruits

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

by Caitlin Daday, Swimming World College Intern

As the excitement of Olympic Trials winds down, a new craziness is just beginning— college recruiting season. Recruiting can often be quite stressful and confusing. Choosing a college is a big deal, and finding the right one can seem daunting. As a rising junior I have been through the process myself and have seen my sister and numerous others go through it enough times to be quite familiar with it.

There are many things I wish I would have known back when I was a high school senior. So to those just beginning the process, here is my advice to help you have the best recruiting experience possible:

1. July 1 means nothing.


Photo Courtesy: Pixabay

Okay, it does not quite mean nothing, but what calls you do or do not get on the first day do not usually matter in the long run. I would be willing to bet that most people do not even get a call from the school they end up choosing until much later in the process. In fact on July 1, I did not get a call from any of the three schools I ended up taking trips to. Getting a call from a school on July 1 does not mean you are a lock to go there. As the process goes on, things change and people will need to get bumped off the list. Calls can be good, but they do not mean that it will all work out straight from the beginning.

2. Learn how to say no.


Photo Courtesy: JD Lasica

Saying no is tough – it was something I struggled with – but it is a worthwhile skill to learn. If you know something is not for you, say no. Do not waste your time or theirs. The whole process will become easier as you are able to narrow down what you want. Additionally it will be easier for coaches who can also begin to cut down their lists. Some coaches may not like to hear it, but at some point it must be done.

3. But be open to different possibilities.


Photo Courtesy: Dave Wegiel

Saying no is important, but in recruiting it is also necessary to be open to options you had not thought of before. Many schools will contact you, some of which had never crossed your mind. Let them talk to you before shutting them down. You never know what will end up working out. I did not want to go to Villanova, but kept it on my list as a backup. I ended up loving it. When you rule things out too quickly you limit yourself. Sometimes the unexpected options end up being the best for you and the most worthwhile.

4. Ask questions.


Photo Courtesy: Brooke Wright

Throughout my recruiting process, I was someone who was more prone to listening than asking questions. Yet one question I did ask has ended up defining my training and career since arriving at school. Sometimes it is hard to come up with “good” questions. But don’t worry about them being the best question ever— ask the “stupid” questions. In the end they probably will end up giving you the best insight. If you don’t know something, ask. It’s much better to find out early before you end up committing without knowing everything.

5. Let people get to know you.

Photo Courtesy: Kalina DiMarco

Photo Courtesy: Kalina DiMarco

During phone calls and on trips, let people get to know you. The team, coaches, everyone. Be yourself. You want to be at a place where you are comfortable being you. If you are not, then that probably is not the place you belong. The coaches and team also want to get an idea of what kind of person to expect when you arrive on campus and how you will fit into the team. It is important for them to see that you fit into the culture that is there and will be able to work with your potential coaches and teammates.

6. Try not to stress.


Once again, finding the right college is a big decision. It is certainly not something to be taken lightly. Still, you need to enjoy the process. For some, the decision might be easy, but for others it may seem like the end of the world. The best thing to do is to go with it, explore everything, and trust that in the end everything will work out for the best.

7. Go with your gut.


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Do what makes you happy—that is what matters most. If you step onto a campus and just do not feel it, do not go there because others want you to. Try to ignore any outside pressure and go with what you know is right. Only you know you, and it is most important to go where you will be able to have the best four years of your life. If you trust your gut, you will end up in the right place.


  1. avatar
    Eileen O'Brien

    Lynn Taber Grever for our Andy

  2. avatar
    Lynn Taber Grever

    Great article. Shared it with him! Thanks. There was one that said “don’t stress”. My fav