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Unofficial vs Official Visits: Unofficial Visits Explained

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 unofficial visit requires a recruit to pay for their own transportation, food, and accommodations during a college campus visit, while an official visit allows the college to pay for part or all of 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.



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.

Also, 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.


  • 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.

  • Recruits are allowed to stay on campus with an enrolled student.

Division I and Division II schools require recruits to pay the regular institutional rate for accommodations.

Division III recruits are only allowed to stay on campus with an enrolled student if that housing option is available to all students who visit the school, both athletes and non-athletes.

**Parents and/or guardians will need to find their own lodging options.



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.




Every official visit will be different, but there are some similarities that can be counted on.

  • 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)


At some point during an unofficial visit, you will be able to ask questions of the coaches. This is one of the major advantages of taking an unofficial visit, and the opportunity should not be wasted. You should create a detailed list of questions to ask the coach, and bring the list with you on the visit. The list will ensure all your questions are answered, as well as impress the coach with your high level of preparedness.



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.


Now that you understand 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.


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