The college recruiting process is very personal and is different for each prospective recruit.  Each rower/coxswain’s profile is unique both in terms of rowing as well as academic achievement.  In addition, every one of you is different in terms of which schools and rowing programs will be appealing.  It is important that you do your own research and communication with coaches and not rely on anyone else’s conclusions about a school or rowing program.  Sometimes, if a particular rower or coxswain has had a less than positive visit to a college, they will report this back to their high school team and the other kids from that team will “write off” that school/program.  This is unfortunate because there are multiple reasons why a rower/coxswain may not have liked a particular school or program.  The opposite may also be true-that a prospective recruit comes back from a school and tells his/her friends that the school was the greatest school/program that they have ever visited.  That is great for them but may not be the right place for you.

Be aware that who gets recruited can change from year to year depending on the profiles of the potential recruits-so stories about who got recruited by a particular school in the past may not be relevant.

We know it is hard for both rowers/coxswains as well as their parents not to listen to  and be influenced by “chatter”.  Try to keep what you hear in perspective and understand that someone else’s conclusions may not be the same as yours.


A good rule of thumb for recruiting is to make it as easy as possible for a coach to recruit you. Coaches are looking for what we call the “3 legged stool of recruiting”. The first leg is rowing-both erg and water performance. The coach needs to be interested in your ability as a rower/coxswain before you continue to the next step in the process. The next leg is your academic performance in the classroom. This means taking challenging courses and doing well. There are different standards for academic performance for different colleges. You need to know what each college admissions office is looking for in order to determine if you fit within the range for a potential recruit. The third leg is standardized testing. You need to know which tests are required by the admissions office and what range of scores will keep you in the mix as a potential recruit.

Coaches are looking for potential recruits who will fit in well with their team culture. They are looking for recruits with a strong work ethic, enthusiasm, and the ability to be a good team member which are invaluable on a college team.

Recruiting is very competitive with many high school rowers and coxswains seeking recruiting spots on college teams. By doing your best with your rowing, academics and high school/club team participation, you put yourself in the strongest position to get one of those coveted spots.

A positive  attitude is critically important throughout the rowing recruiting process and a negative attitude will be noticed by a college coach and may be cause for concern.  Coaches are aware that one person’s attitude can influence others on the team-both positively and negatively.  Be the person who will be a positive influence on others.  It will serve you well.

Be aware of how you act towards other people-specifically your parents.  Coaches will be watching as you interact with your parents and many believe that the way you act towards your parents will be the same way that you may act towards them and towards the members of your team.  We understand that there are times when you may be frustrated by your parents-but expressing this frustration in front of a college coach is  not a good idea.  Parents probably are not as familiar with rowing as you are and may ask questions that seem obvious to both you and the coach.  It is important that through this process, your parents understand what is happening.  Parents want to be part of their son’s or daughter’s  search for a college that is a good match-so allow them get the information that they need.


The college where you get recruited is based on your academic performance, test scores, erg scores  and race performance.  Just because you row does not mean you will get recruited.  The college admissions office is responsible for your admission so you must have the appropriate academic profile for the school.  Make it as easy as possible to get admitted  by doing as well as you can academically.  The rowing piece gets the coach interested in you but you need the academics to get admitted.

Many student athletes make the mistake of sending out e-mails to many coaches stating that they want to row for that college.  Coaches receive hundreds of these e-mails and can often tell fairly quickly whether or not the prospect would fit their profile for a potential recruit. Do your homework about a program and college to get an idea of whether it might be a good fit before telling a coach that you want to row for them.

How does my time fit with other rowers who are in high school and would like to row in college?  This depends on the particulars of whether you are male, female, lightweight or open weight.  A great place to start would be the results from Crash-B’s or other indoor rowing events that  occur most often during the months of January and February. Take a look at the particular race for your category.  Remember that each indoor rowing event is geographically specific and only attracts a small percentage of the high schools rowers in the country.  There will be a large range of times for each race from very fast to much slower.   Student-athletes are looking to get recruited to all types of schools and rowing programs so times that are attractive to one college rowing coach may not work for another.   Keep your perspective when looking at the results but use them as  motivation to get faster.

Congrats! You have graduated from high school and are going onto row for a collegiate program. You will have to select classes with a very small glimpse of what to expect, live with a complete stranger for the next year, maneuver around unfamiliar places and make a host of new friends all while working out for 20 plus hours a week. Are you ready?

Going into Freshman year as an athlete can be especially daunting, here are some of the things I learned through the years that I wish I had known going into my Freshman year.

1. Everyone is in the same boat with you. All of the first years are just as scared and timid as you are. Be willing to admit that you are struggling with your friends, teammates, coaches and teachers. Most of them will understand and help you where they can.

2. Leave your ego at home. Your fellow freshmen are all the top of their teams too. It was a great accomplishment to be recruited but once you arrive at college your past success doesn’t mean anything. You have to earn your place on the team again. You won’t be the fastest person on the team when you come in and you may never be. To succeed emotionally and physically on the team, you need to accept that and learn from it.

3. Rowing cannot and should not be everything. It is a hard balance. It takes up the majority of your time and emotions. However, rowing cannot dictate your entire college experience. It is a part of it. Find a balance between rowing, school and a social life. You can only do two of those really well.

4. Go to class. The easiest way to do well in a class is to show up. Teachers will remember seeing you and if you need something from them like an extension it is important that they know you actually care about their class.

5. Talk to your teammates. Before you go to school, you can reach out to upper classmen on your team. Most of them are more than willing to give you advice. Ask them about classes and teachers so you can avoid the bad classes and get in some of the best classes with great professors.

6. Don’t be that person. You can be whoever you want when you come into college. You haven’t grown up with these people and they don’t know anything about you. Don’t come across the wrong way. Don’t throw up the first night out or sleep with every person you meet. People will remember.

Above all, embrace the opportunity you have. You have 4 years to row at a great school. You are a member of a select 5% of students out there who are collegiate athletes. No matter your future success in the sport, you are doing something remarkable, special and difficult. Love every painful second of it.

Unigo is a website that is a great resource to get info on colleges from students attending the school. Be sure to look at the college website as well to get additional specific information about the college and look at the athletic page of the college website to get specifics about the rowing program.

There are many college rowing programs so don’t get “hung up” on going to the “best program”. Best can change from year to year.

Be sure to pick a school where you will be happy with or without rowing. Do the “broken leg” test. Would you be happy at the school if you were not able to row for some reason? While most recruited rowers and coxswains intend to row for a full 4 years, there are many reasons why this may not work. Be sure when you are choosing a college that you look into the specifics of the majors in which you may be interested. If you think you might be a biology major, check to be sure that the department offers the courses that are interesting to you.

While rowing is a big part of the college experience, remember that you are a student-athlete with the emphasis on “student”. The school that you attend will follow you for the rest of your life and you want to be sure that you picked the best academic match that you can.

Some of the most successful rowers were “walk-ons” in college.  Susan Francia is a great example of someone who walked on to the Penn Women’s team in her sophomore year.   Crew is one of the sports in which you can start as a complete novice in college and reach the highest levels of success.  Rowing in college can be a great way to “round-out” your college experience by adding physical activity and competition to your academics.

Remember that coaches want to get to know the student-athletes who are interested in being on their team.  Information sent through e-mail or even in a telephone call are not the same as a personal face-to-face meeting.  It is beneficial to both you and the coach to have a personal meeting.  There is more to recruiting than just numbers-erg score and academics.  As all of you know, personality, work ethic, determination and personal goals can play an important part of the make-up of a team.  The personal meeting with the coach allows him/her to get to know you deeper than your just your “numbers”.  So-get yourself to the campuses of the schools that are of interest and meet with the coaches.  We know that this is time consuming and sometimes hard to fit into your busy schedule but it is well worth the effort.