UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Victoria Vanriele put a lot of work into her college recruitment process and learned a lot along the way.
Now, the Penn State track and field athlete and Schreyer Scholar is helping current and future high school athletes navigate that process.
Vanriele, who is entering her second year in the Smeal College of Business, recently created a website, “The Track and Field Recruiting Guide,” designed to provide emerging track and field athletes with tips, resources, and strategies for finding the right fit. The site, which launched in July, is free to access and is based on Vanriele’s own experiences as a recruit in addition to those of her high school and Penn State teammates.
“I feel that there are just a few gaps in people’s understanding or knowledge of this process,” Vanriele said.
Vanriele, a middle-distance runner who won 10 state titles during her standout career at Governor Livingston High School in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, began her own recruitment process in earnest during the summer after her sophomore year of high school, when college coaches began to contact her. Her parents, Jewel Douglas and Horace Vanriele, a college track athlete himself, provided vital support, encouraging Vanriele to look at national college ranking lists and to establish a set of criteria. She tried to keep an open mind, considering smaller, prestigious universities as well as larger state schools, and took four of her five NCAA-allotted official campus visits.
Finding the right school can be a very subjective process, as much about feel as fact, but Vanriele, who took detailed notes throughout her recruitment, compiled a list of questions to ask college coaches. She also created an algorithm to help her evaluate her list of choices, including factors such as the school’s net cost, its proximity to her home, its academic ranking, and recent performances of its track and field team. The website includes a similarly modeled algorithm, with Vanriele encouraging students and parents to create their own, personalized versions.
Vanriele, who won the 800-meter title at the Big Ten Indoor Championships in February and was named the conference’s Freshman of the Year in March, had been hoping to compete well into the summer at the NCAA Outdoor championships but wound up spending most of the spring and summer recuperating from an injury instead. She decided to use that unexpected free time to design the site, which has already received more than 600 unique visitors and positive feedback from contacts in Vanriele’s track network since its launch on July 16.
While Vanriele is pleased with her ultimate decision to attend Penn State, her hope is that every recruit who visits the site undertakes his or her own personal journey – and that the site helps those recruits anticipate potential hurdles or surprises.
“There’s no right path. There’s a school out there for everyone, a direction out there for everyone,” she said. “Everyone has different goals for the future. I just wanted to be able to give them more confidence and more control when it comes to interacting with coaches, athletes, administrators, whatever it may be.
“I’m putting out something I’m really confident in. I’m proud of the product, but I’m open to change it as more ideas come in or I get new information.”
About the Schreyer Honors College
The Schreyer Honors College promotes academic excellence with integrity, the building of a global perspective, and creation of opportunities for leadership and civic engagement. Schreyer Scholars total nearly 2,000 students across the University. More than 15,000 Scholars have graduated with honors from Penn State since 1980.