Monday, November 3, 2008

Election Learnings for the Recruiting Trail

It’s the day before the 2008 Presidential election and I find myself drawing parallels between this election and college recruiting. We have all watched this political season forever. Everyone has their own take on what they’ve witnessed and their own personal reaction to it. I learned something interesting about myself during the dog days of the presidential campaign. I had some pretty strong feelings about my candidate and got more and more frustrated and anxious when I heard what I thought were unfair attacks or untrue lies. Late in the campaign, a friend talked me into volunteering at a phone bank. There are few things I find more distasteful than cold calling and trying to twist arms, but I did it. Much to my surprise, I felt great about it when we finished and here’s why: you can only feel powerless for so long before it starts to get to you. When you take some action, it’s liberating. I know that sounds clichéd and who knows if the calls I made did any good for my candidate but the cobwebs of inaction were cleared and I was energized to soldier on.

So what does all of this have to do with college recruiting? The parallels are unmistakable. When the recruiting season starts, you’re pretty clear on what would constitute a good outcome. Time goes on. You’re waiting for something to break and getting a little antsy. More time goes on. Maybe a few things start coming your way but not what you were hoping for. Now you’re getting anxious. And frustrated. And finally, worried that time is passing and you’re not getting any closer to the goal. Inaction is usually the result of distaste for the task (as it was for me cold calling) or lack of knowledge about what to go do (as it is for many families and college recruiting). What makes them similar is that passivity leads to frustration, and effort invigorates.

So please, just do something. Take action. Educate yourself. Make some contacts, Do some research on college programs. Learn about scholarships. Talk to coaches. Just do something. The process doesn’t belong just to the college coach, it belongs to both of you. There’s no honor in waiting for him or her to initiate something. Make the process your own and you will be delighted at how much more you will begin to enjoy it.

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