College Application Booster​®: Get ahead on your college application!

Ivy League Athletic Recruiting

If you’re looking for information on how to be recruited by an Ivy League athletics program or that of another elite academic institution, you’ve come to the right place. At Command Education, we believe in the power of information and want all those interested in learning about the complex world of athletic recruiting to have their questions answered.

We know how mystifying the recruitment process can be because many of our mentors once went through it themselves. Despite being extensively written and talked about, the essential steps to securing a spot on a college team are still widely misunderstood. Many of the beliefs we find to be most damaging to a student’s chances of being recruited come from a lack of access to up-to-date, accurate information. Word-of-mouth advice and tips that “worked for previous athletes” are often incomplete, circumstantial, and easily misinterpreted; despite being well-intentioned, this advice can prove detrimental to a student’s prospects in the long run.

Command Athletics® is a specialized program at Command Education, designed by former student-athletes from top universities, to offer individualized assistance to high school student-athletes as they navigate the complex, and often stressful, college recruitment process. Our approach complements our Premier Roadmap Package® to ensure that your student is being optimally positioned within the recruiting landscape without neglecting any of the academic aspects of their application profile. We offer personalized guidance and strategic counseling tailored to each athlete’s needs. Our services help students become confident, well-rounded student-athletes prepared to be recruited by a top college, who thrive in their sport and in the classroom once on campus.

If you are hoping to learn about recruiting, this resource page is a great place to start!

List of Command Education’s Top Picks for Student-Athletes

Division 1

Stanford University
Duke University
Princeton University
University of Virginia
UC Berkeley
Harvard University
University of Notre Dame
University of Michigan
The University of Texas at Austin

Division 3

Johns Hopkins University
University of Chicago
Amherst College
Williams University
Carnegie Mellon
Washington University

Sports Resume Development

You’re probably familiar with the concept of submitting a resume as a standard component of a job application. You may already have an up-to-date resume and may already be familiar with the best practices and standards necessary to get your application noticed. However, you are likely less familiar with the concept of creating a sports resume. This single-page document is an important part of the recruiting process.It gives college coaches the ability to review all relevant information about you in one easy place. Not to mention, the photo you include will help them to recognize you at competitions and visualize you as a part of their team.

The sports resume’s content will differ slightly for each sport, but be sure to include:

  • A recent photo
  • Your contact information
  • Your school & club coaches’ contact information
  • Standardized test scores and GPA
  • Athletic bio/measurables
  • Highlights/awards
  • Link to highlight video/online profile
High School Student playing tennis

Recruitment Profile Building

While your resume allows you to share important information directly with coaches and recruiting coordinators, online profiles are one of the ways that college coaches can find you. College coaches are aware of the top recruits in their area, those that achieve national recognition, and those that have been introduced to them through connections. However, a large number of student-athletes go undetected simply because their online presence is too small. One of the ways to ensure that as many college coaches have access to your information as possible is to actively fill out online recruiting profiles on websites like NCSA and be recruited™. Your sport may also have its own unique recruitment website or platform specifically tailored for its athletes, so be sure to fill out a sport-specific profile if it exists.


Nearly every single college athletic department offerst a questionnaire for aspiring recruits to complete. If you’re asking yourself if this is something worth doing, the answer is yes. By filling out these questionnaires, you are introducing yourself to a school, joining their mailing list, demonstrating interest, and creating a reason to follow-up with coaches. Once completed, the questionnaires often send auto-responses that are not to be confused with being actively recruited. However, if you follow up with an email to the coach, it’s possible you could hear from them.

Highlight Reel Videos

Athletes are increasingly being recruited based on their performance in video compilations. Putting together a reel that can be publicly viewed and shared is a great way to increase your visibility and chances of getting noticed. It also allows coaches to verify your abilities and see if your skill set fits what they are looking for. While the video’s content varies slightly by sport, here are some things to keep in mind as you compile your video:

  • Keep your video short (3 min max)
  • Focus on your strengths, but demonstrate varied skills
  • Label each clip with a description
  • Circle/highlight yourself if in a group
    Include a title page with your bio info
  • Make sure your video quality is high
  • Post your video to Youtube as well as to your recruiting profiles

For more information about highlight videos, visit NCSA.

NCAA Regulations

However you feel about the NCAA, it’s likely you are going to be subject to its regulations if you play college sports. However, there are 2 other governing bodies for intercollegiate sports, the NAIA (small colleges) and the NJCAA (junior colleges).

The NCAA is notorious for having overly complicated and far-reaching rules regarding student-athletes. However, even recruits who are yet to be officially NCAA student-athletes are beholden to these many rules and bylaws.

For the most up to date rules and regulations, visit the NCSA website here

High School Student playing tennis

College List Building

Building a personal and balanced college list that includes reach, match, and safety schools is a difficult task that requires careful consideration and research. When you add in the element of trying to find schools that are both an academic and athletic fit, you have a pretty tough task.

The key to building a balanced college list is to start by casting a wide net and to leave yourself open to the possibility of being recruited by schools you aren’t initially interested in. Though you’ll eventually, narrow your list down to about 12 serious candidates, you don’t want to cross any schools off your list too early. It’s best to start by seeing where you stand with the coaches at your top schools, but if you fail to get responses or receive negative feedback, you should quickly adjust your strategy and target universities with programs that recruit athletes of your caliber.

Another common mistake is failing to have serious conversations about how important playing sports in college is to you until it’s too late. This is a very personal decision, but we recommend that students have 3 reach schools on their college lists that satisfy their academic desires even if they are unable to play sports there.

Showcase and Event Identification

No matter how skilled you are at your sport, to get recruited, you will have to work hard to put yourself in front of college coaches. Getting seen is about when and where you play, and there’s some strategy involved in choosing which events you attend (especially when many of them occur simultaneously). Here are a few tips that can help you make some of these tough decisions and ensure the events/camps you attend are worth your time and money.

  • Always look at which coaches are planning to attend an event. The host is unimportant, but the list of coaches that will be present is.
  • Make sure you’re healthy and ready to perform. Sometimes time is better spent training/improving before trying to get exposure. If you’re unsure you should discuss whether you play or train with your coach to see where your game is currently at.
  • Communicate with as many coaches before registering for an event to let them know you’ll be there and to confirm that they will also be in attendance.
  • Don’t play out of your league. You don’t want to go to an event and stack up against peers who are much more advanced than you are.
  • Determine whether your peers are attending this event as a way to gauge whether it’s important in your area.
  • Stand out with your play as much as with your conduct, attitude, and maturity.

Initial Coach Contact

If you want to get recruited, you’re eventually going to have to speak with a number of college coaches. Once electronic communication is allowed for your class (for most D1 sports this is either June 15th after sophomore year or September 1st of junior year) coaches can begin contacting you about recruiting specific topics. We recommend sending at least one email to each coach on your list in the months leading up to this day in order to increase the chances of being contacted. Coaches will not be able to respond until September 1st, but trust that this is a hugely important part of the process.

  • Your email should include the following information:
  • Introduction with general academic bio & test scores / relevant sports information
  • Passage expressing interest in the school and evidence you’ve done a bit of research on the university and athletics program
  • Attach Sports Resume
  • Link to highlight video
  • Call to action such as, “I look forward to speaking with you when time allows ”

Remember to keep your email fairly short and concise. Coaches are busy people and appreciate it when athletes respect their time.


Test scores have been under the microscope over the past few years. You may be wondering how the College Board’s decision to cancel all future SAT II Subject Tests and some schools’ adoption of test optional policies, affects you. The traditional SAT/ACT will be the primary test students and recruits alike need to focus on. While we don’t recommend taking these exams until you have studied, taken practice exams, and are ready to perform, it is important that student-athletes take exams early so that they have them readily available when coach communication begins This typically means sometime during the second half of sophomore year. Your goal should be to get within striking distance of the typical test score at the schools you are targeting. If you can get that score or it can be reasonably projected that you will on your next attempt, coaches will be much more likely to move along with the recruitment process. If they are very confident you are an academic match for their university, they can move forward with confidence knowing that, if they feel you have what it takes to contribute to their team, you will be accepted into the university academically. The fewer variables a coach has to worry about with a student-athlete, the easier the athlete is to recruit!

How do Scholarships work?

There are many things to know when discussing athletic scholarships, but here are a few helpful facts that can help clear things up:

  • Ivy League schools DO NOT offer athletic scholarships. Period.
  • D3 schools do not offer athletic scholarships either. However, a majority of student-athletes receive other forms of merit-based aid. D1 and D2 schools are the only programs that can offer athletic scholarships.
  • “Full Rides” are very uncommon. Each D1 sport has an allotment of scholarships they cannot exceed (for example, baseball has 11.7 scholarships to give and a 35-man roster). This means that scholarships are splintered up and spread amongst the team so that most athletes at least receive some aid. Only top recruits who would not otherwise be able to attend the school in question are offered complete scholarships.
  • Athletes should talk to coaches to get a better understanding of the scholarship landscape at individual schools.

For a list of scholarship allotments by sport, click here.

When can I talk to coaches?

The NCAA has recently changed their rules regarding communication. For the most up-to-date information visit the NCSA recruiting rules page.

What is the difference between official and unofficial visits?

Official and Unofficial visits are some of the most fun parts of the recruiting process. This is when you actually get to go visit campus (could be virtual due to COVID-19), meet the coaches and team, and get a true sense of a program.

Official Visits:

  • Recruits can take only one official visit per school
  • Each official visit may be up to 48 hours long, or the span of one weekend
  • Parents are invited to join athletes on official visits
  • The school can pay for three meals per day and tickets to a home sports match.
  • Could be a good time to commit to a school

Unofficial visits:

  • Unofficial visits are any visits paid for entirely by a recruit’s family.
  • Cannot schedule them with the coach
  • Can’t talk about recruiting with the coach if you see him/her on campus

What is a verbal commitment?

According to the NCAA:

“A verbal commitment happens when a college-bound student-athlete verbally agrees to play sports for a college before he or she signs or is eligible to sign a National Letter of Intent. The commitment is not binding on the student-athlete or the school and can be made at any time.

The timing of verbal commitments varies by sport, but the NCAA recently conducted a helpful study to identify recruiting trends for each sport that can be found here. for the typical commitment time for your sport. When a student-athlete officially commits to attend a Division I or II college, he or she signs a National Letter of Intent, agreeing to attend that school for one academic year.”