Unofficial Visits

The recruiting process is in full swing when coaches are communicating with you regularly. 

Junior year could feel really long when repeated correspondences with college coaches are added to heightened academic stresses and athletic performance demands. Some coaches call you on a schedule and you should be prepared to have something new to share with them.  Some will call to discuss how you performed at specific meets.  Other coaches will test your level of interest by how frequently you contact them.  Over the course of several months, the list of institutions that you are interested in could change substantially, as you obtain more information about the colleges and you identify your values more clearly; as your academic as well as your athletic interests and abilities crystalize; and as relationships with coaches develop or dissolve.

Beyond communicating with coaches electronically, it’s useful to visit as many institutions on your list as possible to gather information that ultimately will narrow your choices.  Some programs host a junior day, when select athletes across a range of events are invited for an unofficial visit (fully self-funded) on a particular day, to hear all the event coaches talk about their programs, receive a tour of the campus and the track & field facilities, and meet current athletes.  Junior day also provides an opportunity to see who from your grade is being recruited.

Some coaches extend an invitation to recruits and their families to come to the university for a personalized unofficial visit. On this visit, coaches often spend hours pitching their program, giving the recruit a tour of the campus and track & field facilities, introducing the recruit to the coaching staff, and arranging for the recruit to meet with current athletes and to sit in on academic classes. The coaches make a hard sell of their programs at your full expense. Per NCAA regulation, coaches aren't even allowed to buy you a meal on an unofficial visit. Recruits can take as many unofficial visits as logistically and financially possible since there's no restriction on the number of unofficial visits an athlete can take once the visits are within the allowable NCAA time frame.

Some recruits use their vacation time to bunch together a few unofficial visits in a particular region. Some make day trips for unofficial visits to colleges close to home. Visiting college campuses is the best way to see and try the wide array of resources that could impact your quality of life and track & field experiences. 

Really pay attention and take notes as well as pictures to be able to reference at a later date and compare college programs.  Here are some things to look for: 

  • Test the track surfaces on which you'll be training daily

  • Distance runnners should check out the roads for the amount and steepness of hills

  • Examine apparati and fields related to your event

  • Inspect the weight room for spaciousness and the types of equipment

  • Check out the selection of recovery machines and amenities

  • Inspect the trainers' room where injuries are treated

  • Look into the refueling amenities

  • ​Inspect the locker room for cleanliness and spaciousness

  • ​Determine the distance from the tracks to the dorms and academic buildings for walkability

  • Examine the athletes' academic center

  • Have a look at a dorm and the bathrooms

  • Eat in a dining hall or the student center

  • Assess the liveliness of the campus if college is in session

  • Determine the walkability from the dorms to the downtown

  • Check out the surrounding town for shopping, dining, entertainment, places of worship, and your safety

Other Steps