I have started to harp on lately is athletes should not be taking unofficial recruiting visits to college programs that you cannot drive to. In most situations, it may be a location that is over six to eight hours away that I feel you should not be spending the time and money going to.
So why the sudden change of heart? What if it is a school that has been showing me a lot of attention? I know that the economy has probably hit a lot of readers hard and it has done the same to me. So with money being an important issue, then why make a visit that could cost $1,000 if nothing is guaranteed?
If a school has offered you a scholarship offer and you are serious about them, plunking down $1,000 for a weekend trip to see the school, meet the coaches, and possibly see them in action on the field is fine. If you eventually take that scholarship, it could be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in the end. So $1,000 won’t feel like that big of a deal in comparison.
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But if you are from Ohio and have been hearing a great deal from the University of Oklahoma, unless there is a scholarship on the table, taking that visit is certainly not worth it. You will have to fly (likely at least two tickets for parent and child), get a hotel, and a rental car. That adds up quickly, especially on a home game weekend for a school like the Sooners.
Yes, not taking that trip does limit your exposure to campuses of colleges. But if you really wanted to see schools and have $1,000 to spend, why not spend a week during the summer traveling to 10 to 15 different schools in your area checking out the academics, campuses, and the coaches? You likely would spend about the same amount of money but would be exposed to much more overall.
If you do that and the University of Oklahoma does eventually throw a scholarship offer your way in the recruiting process, then they will pay the bill for you to take an official visit to Norman, Oklahoma. Yes, your parents will have to pay their own way, but again, if they are going to pay for your college education, a $1,000 really isn’t all that much in the long term scheme of things.
My thoughts overall are that you should take as many unofficial visits as you can close to home. These are the ones that you can drive to. It may get tiring but seeing what different schools have to offer is something that will pay major dividends throughout the athletic recruiting process.
The reason I felt it was important to bring this to the attention of families is a school in Texas was recruiting someone from across the country hard. This football player was a junior and wanted to show how interested he was in the school and the program. He spent the big money to go down there and was among at least 50 other kids visiting the game that day. He was just a number at that school and the program eventually moved another direction. Yes, he will have the memory of visiting the school but with budgets of families limited these days, avoiding wasteful trips is important.