The High School Academic Timeline for Recruiting

Setting yourself up for academic success and becoming eligible for college takes organization, preparation and time. If you start when you are a freshman, you will have more time to correct any mistakes and make any adjustments necessary for eligibility.

4 Years of High School Mapped Out

It begins in 9th grade. This is a year full of adjustments. You will most likely have to adjust to a new school, location, friends and teachers. You’re so busy with all the newness that you may forget to do one of the most important things you should do for your recruiting process. Meet with your guidance counselor or the person who helps student athletes with the recruiting process.   

Some high schools have a designated person assigned to student athletes to help with this process. Other high schools use guidance counselors.  Either way, you need to find out who is going to help you with academics and eligibility requirements for college.  

Below is a breakdown for each year so you can start planning early and begin to put your recruiting plan together.

If you want to play in college, then you should follow this outline.  

Girl wearing glasses and yellow sweater holding several notebooks

Grade 9 – Freshman Year

Start planning early. Meet with your guidance counselor to understand core courses. These are the courses necessary for college eligibility. Find your high school’s list of approved courses. 

Did you know there is a link you can use to do this on your own? It is called the  You just enter your high school information and all your countable courses (countable toward college eligibility) are listed out for you. 

You can also sign up for a free account at the eligibility center.  This will provide you with requirements for NCAA colleges and you can create a Profile Page for yourself. 

Start high school with the best grades you can. Start strong!

Start learning about the recruiting process. Begin to ask questions and start thinking about what you envision your college experience to look like. Do you know what level you might be interested in playing in?

If you are interested in certain colleges now, feel free to take some unofficial visits. The more unofficial visits you take, the easier it is to picture what you want in a college environment.

You may be on a travel team in one or more sports. If you are not on one yet, you should begin to look at different opportunities. A travel or club team will help you gain exposure to the college coaches.

Girl with red phone in one hand and pen in other hand looking at phone

Grade 10 – Sophomore Year

Register with the NCAA Eligibility Center. The Eligibility Center has details for what is required for each Division in the NCAA. The NAIA has a similar link and information for the NAIA eligibility process.

Continue to get good grades. If you need help in any school subjects, find a tutor and get that help. Understanding how to use tutors and ask for help will also be beneficial to you because, in college, you will be meeting with tutors. 

At the end of this year, ask your guidance counselor to upload your official transcript to your eligibility center profile. You set this up when you register with the Eligibility Center. 

Continue to think about and look into college programs that you may be interested in. Start communicating with college coaches if you have an interest in their programs.

Continue making unofficial visits. Start watching practices and games if you have not started.

You may or may not be receiving mail from colleges. If not, don’t worry. Just keep working on your game and your grades. 

Also understand that you can reach out to college coaches and visit college campuses unofficially, meaning you pay for the trips, as much as you want.  

Group of students taking a test

Grade 11- Junior Year

Take the ACT or SAT and submit your scores to the NCAA. Go to your Eligibility Center account and use the code 9999 to submit. Consider taking both. There is a possibility that these tests may be available on a voluntary basis only, but it has not become official yet.  

At the end of this year, ask your guidance counselor to upload your official transcript to your Eligibility Center profile. This keeps your profile up-to-date and allows you the opportunity to make sure all of your coursework is on track.

Continue to get good grades. This is a must. Continue to keep improving in the classroom, just as you are doing in your sport. There are many opportunities for college aid with good grades.  You want to be in the best possible position you can be academically when you graduate. 

You may be narrowing your college choices by now, depending on your process. If you have not received interest from a college, keep researching and keep reaching out to colleges. Continue to visit and talk to college coaches. Consider all levels.

Group of student posing for graduation picture wearing blue cap and gowns

Grade 12 – Senior Year

You may have decided where you are going to attend college before this year begins. If not, continue to pursue colleges. Ask high school and travel coaches for help reaching out to colleges if you need more contacts. Leave all options open.

Finish strong academically! The better you finish academically, the better chances you have to receive financial aid.

You should be taking your final core courses at this point; the ones from the approved course list that you began in 9th grade.

Retake the ACT or SAT if necessary, or to better your score if desired. Resubmit your new scores if you retake the tests.

Request an amateurism certification beginning April 1 in your Eligibility Account. Go to the Eligibility Center website to find out what that form is. It basically says you were never paid money to play your sport and that you never played professionally.

Upon graduation, don’t forget to have your guidance counselor upload your final official transcript to your Eligibility Account. This will be what is used to determine your eligibility.

For more information on eligibility, visit or

If you need more specific help, contact us at Find My Team.  

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