What is an Official Visit? [Video]
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During your senior year the NCAA allows any academic institution to pay for you to attend campus on a 48-hour Official Visit. Included in the visit is transportation (airfare or mileage reimbursement) to and from campus, lodging (either on campus or in a hotel), meals, and tickets to sporting events on campus. In addition you can be furnished with a “student host” who can be given money to entertain you during your stay. Official visits are different than unofficial visits where you, or your family, are responsible for paying all these costs.
Most college programs have limited resources for recruitment, including official visits, and they are careful whom they invite for these events. Being invited to take an official visit to a college is an honor and an opportunity that is not afforded every prospect. If you are privileged enough to be offered this opportunity be sure not to treat the visit as a 48-hour mini-vacation. You are there to impress, and to be impressed.
As the “early commitment” becomes more prevalent in college recruitment, much of the researching, question asking and developing an understanding of the demands of the program and institution are done during unofficial visits early in the recruitment time-line. For many sports, the official visit is less about deciding on which college program to attend but a final stamping of approval and an opportunity to get to know the program, the coaches and student-athletes further.
Here are some keys to having a successful official and/or unofficial visit:
• Dress appropriately. Do not wear other colleges colors/logos, dress better than you would attending school and do not wear a hat or sunglasses when you are meeting the coaches.
• Be courteous. Shake hands with the coaches and support staff and call them by their appropriate title. Additionally, introduce yourself and then everyone in your company starting with the eldest female (normally your mother) in your group then eldest male.
• Be prepared. Have questions ready to ask and be ready to answer questions about yourself (have your one-minute overview ready) and your academic and athletic goals. Additionally, research the college/university you are visiting and have an understanding of their academic and athletic programs.
• Make good impressions. Although most people are judged within the first few seconds of meeting you, you have the whole time of the visitation to continually make positive impressions with the coaches, their support staff and your future teammates (current student-athletes and other prospects).
• Send a Thank You note. After your visit, send a hand written thank you note/card to the coach and if someone made a particularly positive impression on you during your visit share this with the coach.
Official visits are a great opportunity to gain a greater understanding for what demands and opportunities lay ahead for you as you strive to become a collegiate student-athlete. Make the most of it. After all, you only have a maximum of five to take during your senior year and you can only take one official visit to any given college or university.