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The Reality of Small College Recruiting

When you receive information from a school and you don’t know the name do you research the school or throw the information away? Once you research a school, if the size of the school is less than 5,000, do you mark this school off your list? This seems to be one of the recruiting processes biggest mishaps. Many student-athletes are turning away opportunities because the school is smaller than their high school or not the big campus like Ohio State University. Did you know that Bucknell University, Colgate University, College of Holy Cross, Dartmouth College, Princeton University, and Gonzaga University have less than 5,000 students enrolled at their schools? You wouldn’t pass these schools aside– then why do it with any other schools?

One research found that smaller colleges are better for the student, keeping them engaged and excited about learning. Those smaller classrooms are able to give you personal touch and one-on-one experience with your teachers and fellow classmates, then the lecture halls with 300+ students.

Here are some statistics on the enrollment size of the 2,871 undergraduate colleges & universities, it may seem surprising:

  • 45.1% of schools have admissions of 0-1,000 students

  • 21.1% of schools have 1,000-2,500 students

  • 12.4% of schools have 2,500-5,000 students

  • 9.7% of schools have 5,000-10,000 students

  • 4.7% of schools have 10,000-15,000 students

  • 2.3% of schools have 15,000-20,000 students

  • 4.3% of schools have 20,000+ students


Student-athletes and their parents need to be aware of these numbers because 78.6% of schools have less then 5,000 students at their school. You can go to School Guides to view the enrollment at all schools as well as search by state, majors, & tuition.

When you receive information from a college and/or coach you should research the school and shoot the coaches an e-mail stating you received their admissions packets, letters, brochures and/or questionnaires, and are looking forward to finding out more about their program in the future. Let the coach know you’ll keep him/her updated on your progress during the upcoming season. Later on, shoot him/her a periodic e-mail after a good game or impressive accomplishment. Creating on-going dialogue and making sure that you are continually following-up with the coaches is so important in making the right decision. How do you know what you want in a school if you do not know what is out there?

At some point you will need to narrow down your choices, but before you do, make sure you can give 3 or 4 valid reasons why the school is not the right fit for you.

  • The school is done recruiting for my graduation class.

  • I am not interested in the Military or Christian schools.

  • The school is not recruiting my position.

  • The school does not have my major or any majors that I have interest.

  • I visited the campus and it is not what I’m looking for.

  • I do not feel I could communicate well with the coach.

If you can’t find a few reasons, then you need to ask more questions and research the school in more detail before you close the door on their program. During the recruiting process you will hear from schools that you have never heard of before. You need to research all schools and learn what the school and program will be able to provide. Ask yourself some questions. What is best for me? What do I like or dislike? What do I want? You need to create leverage with schools and you do that by having a pool of schools recruiting you. Remember coaches are friends and they talk to each other, as well as, they change jobs and could end up coaching at a school you want to attend. Make sure to respond to all schools, even if it is to say, thanks, however, I’m not interested.

Remember the recruiting process is a marathon and not a sprint. Good luck!

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