Cosy's Corner: Don't wait until junior year

April, 27, 2012
4/27/12
7:50
AM ET
By Cosy Burnett

Cosy Burnett is a junior outside and opposite hitter at La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.) who also plays for Coast Volleyball Club in San Diego, Calif. Her high school team competed in the state finals for Division II last season and she has competed at nationals five times with her club teams. In the latest installment of her blog, she explains how to prepare for your junior year.

La Costa Canyon volleyball
Cosy Burnett
I had no idea how crazy junior year would be. It’s a tough year for academics, you’re busy with community service, weight training, practices, tournaments and, oh yes, recruiting!

Making a decision on college is, for many of us, our biggest decision yet. I was buried one week last month, taking my math final, studying for the SAT that Saturday, preparing for a tournament that weekend while still fitting in two recruiting trips. AAHHHHHH!!

I thought it would be great to write a blog on the things I wish I had known prior to my junior year. You can do so many things as a freshman or sophomore to maximize your options and reduce stress as a junior. As volleyball recruits, we need to do things on a different timeline from our peers, so get educated and get started.

Make academics a priority
You start high school with a clean slate, so why not go ahead and decide your freshman year to be a 4.0 student and see how close you get? We learn to manage our time with practices and training, so it’s natural to fit in time to study as well. It’s sad when academics keep an athlete out of her dream school, so be sure to keep your options open. Start taking the SAT/ACT early and take it as many times as you can. Scores should improve each time, and your top college choice as a junior may require high scores. Register with the NCAA clearinghouse as a freshman and talk to your counselor so she knows you need to meet the NCAA requirements. I know a girl who played for a junior college because she didn’t take the courses she needed in high school to qualify for a Division I scholarship.

Contact schools early
Start calling and emailing colleges your freshman year. Don’t pester them, but let them know you are interested in their school and fill out their questionnaires so they have your information on file. If it’s a school with high academic standards, the assistant coach is happy to talk to you about what grades/scores you need to get into the school. It’s good to know this early before you have blown it.

Visit colleges
I started making unofficial visits as a freshman. It seemed so early at the time, but it proved to be a great idea. By the time you are a junior, finding free weekends for school visits is challenging. It helped me to catch a vision of what’s possible and motivated me to work hard in school and practice.

Market yourself
Schools need to see you play. Make sure you let them know when your team is headed to a big tournament. If your team doesn’t play nationally, try out for a USA Volleyball High Performance team. The tryout alone is great exposure, and many college coaches are there.

You want to be the “full package” by the time you are a junior. Work hard now and you’ll get there!

Read the previous installment of Cosy's blog – how she chose BYU – here.

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