My Advice to a Younger Me: Where Do I Start With the Recruiting Process?

My junior year of high school, I was a level 9 gymnast and knew absolutely nothing about the college recruiting process.  I had been to only one college gymnastics meet.  I really had no idea where to start.  I didn’t know about the different levels of college gymnastics, how scholarships worked, or even how things like academics factored into the picture.  My school counselors were of little assistance, and my family had really never dealt with this before.  To say the least, we felt overwhelmed.  Where did we start?
My advice to a younger me would be the following 3 things:
1.    Know your own skill level.
        Where do your strengths and abilities lend themselves to help a team/program?
        Do you have an event or two where you could be an asset, if you are not an all-arounder?
        Can you improve your start values and/or skill level to make yourself more marketable?
2.    Research how your academics can impact your marketability.
        Do your grades and academic ability make you an asset to a program?
        Could you qualify for academic aid because of your test scores and GPA?
        Are there other scholarships you could qualify for through other organizations?

3.     Know what the schools are looking for academically and athletically.
        Do you know the difference between Division I, II, and III schools?
        Do you know how many scholarships or spots the team has for your graduation year?
        Can you attend summer camps at any of the schools you are interested in attending?
Those three areas are the easiest ones to start with.  Being able to do a self-evaluation of your skills is very helpful.  Your club coach or local judge should be able to help you do that.  I wish I had people around me advise me on re-taking SAT or ACT tests to boost academic aid possibilities.  Really researching and knowing the college gymnastics
world is also important to know where you could fit in.
If college gymnastics is your dream, you want to make a plan to achieve that dream.  It takes time, energy, and dedication to do that.  College gymnastics is a really tremendous opportunity filled with more memories than you can imagine, and anything that fulfills a dream will be worth all the effort it takes to get there.