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Deciding Between Official and Unofficial Visits: Make the Right Choice



Taking a college visit is an important part of the recruiting process. Understanding the differences between official and unofficial visits can help you plan your recruitment efficiently. An official visit is an opportunity for a college to pay for a recruit’s transportation, food, and accommodations, while an unofficial visit requires the recruit to pay for those expenses. Both visits allow the school to purchase tickets to a home sporting event for the recruit. In this article, we will explain the details of an unofficial visit.


OFFICIAL VS UNOFFICIAL VISIT


Official Visit

A college campus visit that has any part financed by the school is considered an official visit. College coaches typically save official visit invitations for their top recruits, and players they believe could deserve a scholarship offer. To be invited on an official visit is a great opportunity for your recruiting process.


Unofficial Visit

An unofficial visit is completely financed by the recruit, assistance from the college is not allowed. Similar to an official visit, this is an opportunity for you to evaluate if a college is the right place for you. Unofficial visits are unlimited and can be taken at any age almost anytime during the year. It is a great opportunity to assess a college before taking an official visit later in the recruiting process. Taking an unofficial visit could be a necessary alternative if an official visit is not offered to you. College budgets have limits and schools are not able to offer official visits to all recruits.



THE RULES

Official Visit

  • Only 5 visits to Division I schools.

  • Schools can pay expenses for you and your family.

  • Official visits for Division I sports are allowed on August 1, before a recruit’s junior year of high school. This rule excludes Division I Men’s & Women’s Basketball.

  • Official visits are not allowed during recruiting dead periods.

Unofficial Visit

  • Unofficial visits are unlimited and can be taken at any age almost anytime during the year.

  • Recruits are not allowed to arrange unofficial visits with an NCAA Division I school’s athletic department until August 1 of the recruit’s junior year. The recruit and their family can still go on unofficial visits before that time, but are not allowed to have any recruiting conversations with the coach while on campus.

  • Division II, Division III, and NAIA schools are allowed to have their athletic departments arrange unofficial visits with recruits, no matter the age of the recruit.



WHY TAKE A VISIT?

Official Visit

If a coach invites you on an official visit, you should consider it a good sign that the program is serious about your recruitment. An official visit is an additional opportunity for coaches to evaluate recruits. Throughout the visit coaches will be trying to get a better understanding of your personality & character. They will try to determine if you are a good fit for their team and school.


Coaches will pay close attention to how a recruit interacts with their parents/guardians, to help better determine an athlete’s general demeanor. Does the recruit act respectfully, courteously, and kindly to their parents & family? Or does the recruit respond rudely?


Unofficial Visit

An unofficial visit is an opportunity for you to improve your recruiting process. It is a great opportunity to assess a college, and could be a necessary alternative if an official visit is not offered to you. Despite the unlimited number of unofficial visits allowed, do not waste your time, or your parents’ time. When deciding what school(s) to visit, make sure it can benefit your recruitment. Ask yourself a few key questions:

  • Have you spoken to the coach previously?

  • Has the coach asked you about setting up an unofficial visit?

  • Has the coach asked for your academic information?

  • Have you researched the school in advance?

If your answer is “yes” to most, or all of these questions, you have the right motives to take an unofficial visit to the school. Make sure to stay in contact with the coach to schedule an unofficial visit that works for everyone involved.



ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

Official Visit

To take an official visit, the coach needs to know that you are eligible to compete at their school. To visit Division I and Division II schools, a Certification Account is needed. The NCAA Eligibility Center will issue you a NCAA ID number upon registration. Coaches will ask you for the NCAA ID number before your official visit. Also, you will need to do the following:

  • Be added to the Institutional Request List

  • Send the admissions office your transcript


Unofficial Visit

Recruits are not required to complete any eligibility requirements to take an unofficial visit.




WHAT HAPPENS ON A VISIT?



Every visit will be different, but there are some similarities that can be counted on for both official and unofficial visits.

  • Campus Tour

  • Sit in on a class

  • Visit the housing options (on & off campus)

  • Meet the training staff

  • Eat in the school dining hall, food court, or cafeteria

  • Meet with an athletic-specific academic advisor

  • Meet team members (sometimes the entire team)



THE FOLLOW UP

After each visit, be sure to follow up with coaches. Send them a “thank you” note, or message, thanking them for their time & effort, as well as explaining what were your favorite parts of the visit. The follow up shows coaches that you are a thoughtful person & keeps you in their mind during the recruiting process.






NEXT STEPS

Now that you understand official and unofficial visits, you should Schedule a Free Assessment to begin your recruiting process.

If you have already begun the recruiting process, be sure to increase your efforts through our Recruitment Services.