With official visits now happening as early as fall of the recruit’s junior year, parents have even greater cause for curiosity about what will be on the itinerary and how much they will be involved. We received a great question from a parent whose son, a young junior, has an upcoming official visit. The parent wanted to know whether he should plan on tagging along, giving his son space, and what the appropriate protocol was during an official visit. It can be anxiety provoking to turn your high schooler loose on a college campus, so this is an excellent question that deserves attention. Here’s what you can expect as a parent before and during official visits.
Each Official Visit Will Be Different
Each school will run their official visits differently. A lot of this depends on budget, whether the recruit is already committed, and a host of other variables. I personally have been a coach at two programs that ran their official visits in very different ways. Some schools simply don’t have the budget to host parents and players for expensive meals or entertainment. Instead, they opt for a less structured itinerary that maximizes the recruits’ time with current players and coaches. At schools with more resources, the daily visit schedule will be planned to the minute and include various meals and activities, which may or may not include parents. Many programs fall somewhere between these two extremes.
Ask About Costs Up-Front
Be sure to ask about expenses on the front end of the trip. If the school provides anything more than free tickets to an on-campus sporting event, the trip will be considered an official visit. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is an all-expenses paid trip. Some programs will have the budget to pay for everything on the trip, but you’ll want to make sure if your son will need any spending money.
Should Parents Plan to Be There?
Most programs are fine with having players come to campus by themselves or accompanied by a parent(s). Again, this may boil down to costs. Some schools can afford to pay for a parent to accompany the recruit and others will need the parent to pay their own way. Many of these decisions depend on what you feel comfortable doing and the distance to the school. Whether or not you go along on a visit with your son will be up to you, but make sure you find out about costs up front.
It is very likely that you will receive a trip itinerary detailing the activities and plans for the official visit. If done right, the itinerary should answer many of your questions about what your son will be doing, who he will be with, and whether parents are expected to attend an event or meal during the trip. If this information is not included or it is not clear as the trip approaches, have your son ask what events/meals you should plan to attend as well. You’ll also want to make sure that you have the contact information for the coaches.
For Your Son, It’s “A Day in the Life”
If you and your son have already been on campus for an unofficial visit where you shadowed your son from start to finish, plan on the official visit being more hands off. Plan on your son spending most of his time with players and coaches without you. This is your son’s chance to feel what it would be like to be a student-athlete at the school, and having him do that on his own is the best way for him to get an accurate picture of what it would be like. An official visit allows the coaches to show your son what their program is all about. The visit also will allow your son to get to know the current players on the team and learn what “a day in the life” is like for players on campus.
Have a Plan and Questions Lined Up for an Offer
Not all official visits end in a scholarship or roster spot offer, so we don’t want to get your hopes up. However, official visits represent serious interest from the school and getting an offer at the end of a good visit isn’t out of the question. You need to think about questions to ask if you do get an offer and have a plan for how you will proceed. This article has great questions for your son to ask at this stage. Take your time and make sure you and your son have all the information you need to answer these 9 questions before committing.