Recruiting Process Regrets from College Athletes

Choosing a college to simply further your education and continue your sports career is an easy task. That is, unless it is important to you to find the right fit in a college experience and graduate from the first college in which you enroll.

So, if you want the first choice to be the right fit for you, it becomes a little more difficult and requires more work. Having a plan and taking action on that plan is key to increasing your chance of graduating from the college you choose.

When you finally reach your destination and look back on your experience, it is the Find My Team hope that you did everything you could to find the place that is the best college choice for you.

In an effort to help you with that process, Find My Team has summarized information from its poll it administered to current and former college student athletes. We wanted to let you hear their words. One of the questions asked is what the student athletes would have done differently if they had the opportunity to do it all over again. This was an open text question, so respondents could answer any way they wanted.

Below is a summed-up and categorized list of things they would have done differently.


Track runner with hands on knees and orange uniform number 109

I Would Have Started Earlier

Starting the recruiting process earlier was the #1 regret for student athletes. They wished they would have begun the process earlier. Here are some of their responses about starting earlier.

I Would Have: 

  • Started communicating with college coaches earlier
  • Started visiting colleges earlier
  • Started playing on a travel team earlier 
  • Attended more college camps to gain exposure earlier
  • Taken more initiative earlier
  • Filled out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) earlier. This is the form you fill out to see how much federal aid you are eligible for in college.


Softball player holding softball over her mouth

I Would Have Listened to and Used My Own Voice More

Many student athletes feel like they did not get a real sense that people were listening to them. Many also felt they were not confident enough in their own decision-making and wants. Here were some of their responses about voice:

I Would Have:

  • Not let other people tell me what I wanted
  • Not let other people speak for me
  • Not let others tell me where I should go
  • Spoken up when asked about things that were important to me
  • Asked myself if this is really what I wanted to do
  • Not listened when others told me not to apply somewhere
  • Participated in my process. I never really partook in it.


Walkway leading to an arched entrance to a college building on campus

I Would Have Taken More Visits

This response is also a common one from the student athletes. Many feel like they may have chosen too soon or simply were not open to more visits. Here are the responses:

I Would Have:

  • Looked into more schools and kept an open mind
  • Looked at other divisions
  • Considered junior college as the best option for me
  • Not said “yes” to the very first option
  • Been more aggressive about finding different colleges
  • Taken more overnight visits with more colleges


Girl in white sweater on phone with coffee cup on hand

I Would Have Had Better Communication 

Communication with college coaches is hard, uncomfortable and intimidating, at least at the beginning when the relationship is building. For many student athletes, it never really becomes what you would call “comfortable," but this is something that student athletes should definitely pay more attention to. You want to be able to talk to your coaches and your teammates. Otherwise, it will be difficult to build a genuine relationship and feel confident and comfortable enough to ask the questions you need to be answered.

Here are the responses about communication:

I Would Have:

  • Talked to more coaches
  • Emailed every college on my list and not listened to other people limiting me
  • Talked to more college coaches
  • Been more transparent and open with my communication with coaches
  • Spoken more on the phone and used text messaging less
  • Communicated with the college players more
  • Reached out more to the colleges I was interested in
  • Reached out more regarding tournaments and games I was playing in
  • Listened better to college players and picked up cues when asking about the coaches


Girl in blue and white sweater holding phone and looking up thinking

I Would Have Made Less Assumptions

It’s easy to make assumptions about the recruiting process. It is human nature to assume, especially when we do not have all the answers. The mind sort of takes over. This is a result of not doing enough research and not preparing enough for the recruiting process.  Here are some of the responses:

I Would Have: 

  • Asked more questions
  • Waited and not have been intimidated by coaches' timelines
  • Played for a different travel team
  • Looked more into the people at the college and asked more questions about them
  • Done way more research than I did
  • Looked at academics, too. I only focused on athletics, and it hurt me academically. 
  • Made an effort to get to know the coaches better than I did
  • Reached out to college coaches first, instead of waiting for them to reach out to me 
  • Done more research about college sports and the time commitment


Graduate in black and red gown and cap with diploma in hand

I Would Have Done Nothing Different

Only 10% of those surveyed had this reply. The Find My Team goal is to help ensure that our student athletes fall into this category.

The Response We Hope for Is: 

My recruiting process worked! I found the right fit for me!