The Spring is an odd time of year for coaches who aren’t able to offer full athletic scholarships to their prospects (which includes the vast majority of college coaches around the country).
You have the interest of your recruit, they’ve applied to your school, they know you want them. And so now, you wait.
You’re waiting for either one of two things: Either your prospects are finishing-up their Senior seasons and are quietly hoping for other amazing offers from schools who have somehow missed them up to this point, or they are submitting their FAFSA information and are now waiting to get the “official” word from financial aid across campus as to what their “final number” is.
And the wait can be excruciating.
You have decisions to make, but of course you understand and appreciate why it’s a tough decision to make at this point in the early Spring without all of the “official” financial aid information in place.
The result? Most coaches in this situation choose to wait – albeit somewhat impatiently – for the process to run it’s course and eventually get their answer right before the start of Summer. That’s stressful for the coach, and doesn’t do much to solidify your recruiting class as early as possible.
I’m not claiming that the following advice will be the cure for everything that ails you when it comes to this tricky scenario, but there is a question I’d recommend asking that might just give you the answers you’re looking for (even if financial aid isn’t done crunching numbers yet).
Here’s what to ask:
“If the final number comes in around what we’re estimating it will, do you see yourself making us your number one choice?”
Simple and direct, this is one of the questions that we’re seeing work well to get a prospect to open-up and divulge what they are thinking, and which way they and their family is leaning as they make their final decision.
You can also ask effective variations of this question:
- “If you don’t end up getting a scholarship offer from that other program, do you see yourself making us your number one choice?”
- “If you visit that other campus next week and don’t feel like you fit in, do you see yourself making us your number one choice?”
There are a couple of key components in this type of question that are important to understand. First, understand that this is what would be referred to as a “soft close” in the business world…you aren’t asking them for a decision, but you are asking them a question that indicates where they are leaning. That can be valuable information if you’re trying to determine your incoming recruiting class. Secondly, make sure you ask them if they “see” themselves making you their top choice. If you’ve hosted us on your campus for one of our two or three day workshops, you already know about the important psychological reasons for not asking “what do you think”, so using that terminology I just outlined is a must if you want to achieve maximum effectiveness.
One more thing: Don’t make the mistake of feeling awkward about asking this question, or other procedural question as they go through the decision making process. Most recruits we survey say they want some kind of help and leading towards the end of this long and winding recruiting road, so opening up the conversation about how and why they are making the decision can be a difference-maker for you down the stretch.
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