Official College Visit Tips for Student-Athletes

If you end up one of the chosen athletes to attend an official college visit, make sure to prepare so you and the coach both get as much out of it as possible.

For student-athletes in their senior year of high school, the official campus visit is one of the more exciting recruitment tactics used by college coaches to find the right athletes for their schools. Official college visits are not offered to just anyone; only the best of the best are invited personally by interested coaches. If you end up being one of the chosen athletes to be whisked away on an official visit, make sure you’re prepared and know the right questions to ask so you and the coach both get as much out of it as possible. Here’s what to know and what to expect before going off on your college visit journey and meeting with the coach of your preferred sport.

What is an "official visit"?

According to the NCAA, when you are invited on an official visit, "the college can pay for transportation to and from the college for you, lodging and meals...for you and your parents or guardians, as well as reasonable entertainment expenses, including three tickets to a home sports event." Before you can be invited, you need to submit a copy of your high school transcript (as well as standardized test scores for Division I schools) to the college, in addition to registering with the NCAA Eligibility Center. Per NCAA guidelines for most sports, you can only visit a college on an official visit once and have only five total visits to all Division I schools; however, an unlimited number of official visits may be made to Division II schools. Unofficial visits—where travel, lodging, and meal expenses are paid for by you and your family—are also unlimited. 

What to expect

Colleges vary when it comes to hosting prospective athletes. Some may have you stay with one student who is on the team and it will be their job to show you around, while some will have you share your time with multiple people. With most visits, you will be on the campus for about (but no more than) 48 hours, and you will experience every aspect of college life, from checking out a practice, watching a game, and touring the campus to eating at the cafeteria, going to class, and joining in on the social atmosphere. It will be a jam-packed day or two where you will get to meet up with the coach and discuss your future at the college and on the team. Maybe you'll even get a scholarship offer while you're there! The school can also set up meetings with an academic counselor or professor in your desired major so you can get a better feel for the academics. All in all, it's an intense but potentially very enlightening experience.

Related: Why You Shouldn't Expect a Full Ride for College Sports

Questions you should ask on the visit

Having questions prepared shows a huge level of interest in the college's athletic program and the coach. Here are a few to get you started:

  • What is the team's travel schedule like? How does that factor into academics/school?
  • How does the coach see you as a fit for the team? Would you be a starter? Walk on? Are there already many athletes in your position, i.e., four offensive wings so you would be the fifth—and would that be worth it?
  • How many athletes are being recruited for the team?
  • What is the practice schedule like/how many hours per week?
  • Is there practice in the off season?

Write these and any other questions you may have down and bring them with you, along with extra paper and a pen.

How you should represent yourself

Grab your Sunday best, because you need to dress to impress. It shows you put time and thought into your trip and that you appreciate the coach extending him or herself to you. Dressing nicely is just the tip of the iceberg, though. In an interview with former UMass Amherst softball player Bridget Lemire and former Worcester State University field hockey coach Susie Whelan, both expressed how important it is to represent yourself as best as possible off the field. "Most coaches will look at how you treat your parents, how you talk to other people, and how you talk to your teammates," said Lemire. "It may seem small, but it's a very important thing." Whelan added that it is crucially important to be polite. Finally, when your trip is over and you're back home, the first thing you need to do is write a thank-you note to the coach and your host player(s) to express your gratitude for their help and for sharing their time to make you feel at home.

Related: 6 Secrets You Need to Know For a Great Campus Visit

And why you need to behave

Let's face the facts here: you are a senior in high school who has been invited to a college campus for a night or two. Depending on who your lovely host is, it is very possible that you will be asked to join your new friends for some parties and fun. There is nothing wrong with following them out, but beware of doing everything they do. If a coach finds out that you were drinking or were out past curfew, your future at the college will be over. No exceptions. You know that scholarship you were given? You can kiss that goodbye as well. While it might seem like the "cool" thing to do because you want to fit in, it's not worth your athletic dreams and college future. And if you're still not convinced, check out this official visit horror story that I'm sure will change your mind.

Related: Take Your Campus Visit Experience Into Your Own Hands

An official college visit as a student is a heightened experience to the campus visits other students go on. As a student-athlete, you’ll get all the experience of visiting a college plus the added bonus of meeting and getting to know the coach of your desired college sport. Because of this, you want to make sure you’re truly prepare to reap the benefits of every second of your visit. While this may seem intimidating, in the long run, being prepared will mean you’ll enjoy it more. So have fun and make a good first impression—especially if it’s your dream school!

For more advice on making the most of college tours, check out our Campus Visits section, or for more tips on becoming a college athlete, check out our College Athletics section.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now


About Megan Gibbs

Megan Gibbs

Megan Gibbs is the Director CollegeXpress. She has worked for Carnegie, CollegeXpress's parent company, since graduating from Merrimack College in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in Communication. Megan is the glue that keeps CollegeXpress together and the push that keeps us moving forward.


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Hannah Nelsen

Hannah Nelsen

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress has helped me look at colleges that fit my interests by taking my profile and matching it to colleges that have the programs I'm looking for. It has the ability to connect me to colleges so I can be contacted by them and look at them more in-depth to find what's right for me. Additionally, the scholarship database is super beneficial for getting scholarships for college. Not only does it help lift the financial burden of college but it shows all the opportunities available. Overall, CollegeXpress has been very helpful to me.

Ida Akoto-Wiafe

Ida Akoto-Wiafe

High School Class of 2022

I wanted a school that wasn't too far away from home and could provide me with a full-ride scholarship. CollegeXpress helped me put into perspective the money I had to pay to attend those schools, which ultimately drove me to choose to attend a community college first to get used to being in college before transferring to the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor, one of the colleges I was able to research further on CollegeXpress.

Heather McCarty

Heather McCarty

High School Class of 2020

CollegeXpress has helped me with the college application process. The tips and tricks for important essays were so helpful. I also gained useful knowledge about college life. Even though I’m fully online, CollegeXpress has helped me develop a sense of how college is in person. The experiences from college students that were featured on their Instagram page have shown the good, the bad, and the “secret” life on campus from a reliable perspective. Not to mention, they relieved my feelings of anxiety about the workload. I can now understand how it can be stressful, but it takes self-control and willpower to get assignments completed on time and with quality.

Dani York

Dani York

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress helped in my journey by comparing multiple colleges for my final decision. While looking at different colleges, I was able to compare the tuition expenses and that landed me with the college that I’m currently enrolled in, Western Kentucky University. Thank you!

Tariq Adam Khatib

Tariq Adam Khatib

High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress helped me a lot. I am a Tanzania boy who finished my high school studies in Tanzania. I never knew I could get an opportunity to get a scholarship to study abroad. I am happy that now I know how to find the school to study abroad through CollegeXpress.

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

Calvin University

Grand Rapids, MI

Texas Tech University

Lubbock, TX

Binghamton University

Binghamton, NY

Coe College

Cedar Rapids, IA