Am I Too Young to Commit?
Unfortunately, yes, college recruiting does come early these days! We know it, college coaches know it, your parents know it…it’s just the inevitable truth. We, as potential collegiate players (I am putting myself in this category because I have been in this situation) are asked to make big decisions, very early in our careers. We get letters, we go visit schools, we immerse ourselves into college academia, we meet the teams, we meet the coaches and are oddly expected to feel some sort of connection to a college. I did. I felt an immediate connection with USC. I was lucky. But, I was also not really planning on attending USC and had the pressure of deciding between four other schools that, although were amazing, I just didn’t feel a connection with.
I started thinking back on my recruiting process and remember how weird it was to be committing to a university when all of my other friends hadn’t even started the application process. Sure, it is a blessing being chosen to attend a university early because of some sort of skill that you possess…but it can also be a curse. Having to choose where you want to attend college when you’re only 15 years old can be horribly stressful. For some, it can feel uncomfortable & confusing…it can feel like you are going to make the wrong decision. There may be a bunch of reasons why you feel uncomfortable making this decision. Hell, you’re only 15 or 16 years old! That’s young! Of course, it is! You aren’t supposed to be making this decision until you are 18! Here are a few things that may be uncomfortable for you during the recruitment process:
1) When you are visiting schools, you may sit in on a lecture or immerse yourself into college academia. This may scare you because yes, this is college level academia and you are only 15 or 16! So, keep that in mind. You’re not supposed to have any idea what is going on in that classroom…I can guarantee you that half of students sitting next to you feel the same way =)
2) You may not know what you want to do academically. Are college coaches talking about certain academic programs and asking you about your interests/potential majors? DON’T WORRY ABOUT THOSE QUESTIONS and don’t be intimidated if you don’t know the answer. Half of the students that I went to college with didn’t know their major until half way through college!
3) During your visit, you may not have an immediate connection with the girls on the team. You may feel intimidated by them or worry that you won’t get along with them. You have to keep in mind that they are 4-8 years older than you are and by the time you would be attending school, the team would be completely different…and the age gap would be a lot smaller.
4) You may feel like you aren’t good enough to play with the team. Well, duh! You are only 15 years old! College coaches aren’t recruiting you to play for their college team next year. They have seen your potential and know that you are going to develop, learn and grow a lot within the next couple of years!
5) You may just feel in over your head. That is completely normal. But remember, you aren’t going to college for another two, three or four years! You have a lot of time to grow, change and develop.
This last point is really interesting to me…you feel like you are in over your head/going to make the wrong decision. I think that this is completely normal because you just don’t know who you are going to be in the future. The unfortunate truth about committing so young is that you are going to change a lot as a person in high school. Things that are important to you when you are freshman may not be as important to you when you are a senior. The people you want to associate yourself with when you are a freshman may not be the people you enjoy when you are a senior. The things you are interested in, the things you are good at, the things that you can picture yourself doing…all of those may change. So, it’s more than logical that you are struggling making such a big decision, knowing that you are so young and susceptible to change.
It is unfortunate and I would love to tell you that you don’t have to commit early, but if you are serious about playing volleyball at a high level, it may be in your best interest to do a little research and not miss up on any big opportunities.
What do I mean by research? I suggest keeping all of your options open and holding out on making a decision until you essentially run out of time. Stay in communication with the schools that are recruiting you. Know who else they are looking at in your position, how long they can wait for you to make a decision, when they are hoping to have their entire recruiting class filled, if they have already committed players in your class, when they have usually finished signing people in the past…these are valuable questions that will allow you to grasp a better understanding of the amount of time you have to make your decision. At some point in time, you are going to have to make your decision. It may be early in the process (sophomore) or it may be late in the game (senior), but that depends on you and the university recruiting you.
I think that it is really important to know where you are in the recruiting process. Are you committing early? Are you committing late? Are the other players in your position and close to your skill level committing as well? Do you have a lot of schools interested in you? Is this one of your top schools? Why is this your top school? Why not? Why are you hesitating to sign? If your hesitating because you just feel like you are too young to make such a big decision than share these concerns with the people around you and consult those who know you best…family, friends, coaches, teachers and mentors. Ask yourself where you want to be in 3 or 4 years, who you want to be, what you want to be doing. Share these answers with whomever you are consulting and really spend the time to self-reflect.
I will finish this post with one last, very important statement: don’t make any decisions until you are completely sure that the decision you are making is the one that YOU truly want. Consulting and taking into consideration the opinions of the ones you love and respect is extremely important but remember that you are the one who is going to college…it’s not your coach, not your family, not your teammates, not your friends. You have to make the ultimate decision based on the facts and of course based on your heart. Also, don’t fall victim to the pressures of signing early. Never sign just because you feel like you have to. Be smart in the process, know the facts, know what you need to do and then just make a logical decision based off of those things and based off of what your heart is telling you!
You can do this! I know you can!
******I started the recruiting process when I was a freshman in high school, started visiting schools when I was a sophomore, and verbally committed mid junior year. I was the LAST volleyball commit in my class for USC, but the first volleyball commit on my club volleyball team. This just goes to show how much the ‘time frame’ varies for each university.