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My Recruitment Journey - Nathalia Sato

Learn tips and advice based on the real-life experience of the recruitment process of USP Certified Advisor, Nathalia Sato

My Recruitment Journey - Nathalia Sato

For me, it all started with an unreal dream, I would dare to say that it did not match with my reality at that time. I was very young when I started hearing amazing stories about players going to the U.S. to pursue studies and an athletic career. It all seemed too perfect to be true; being able to play the sport I love while receiving a high-quality education with all the support from an institution! 

As the years went by I realized this dream of mine wasn’t so unrealistic at all but it would cost lots of effort on my part and also my parents. I learned the hard way that it is not only up to the financial support of my family. Financials are important, but not the most essential. This journey is long and arduous. You need to be prepared to make sacrifices and prioritize your goals. From the point you decide to take this path you are committed to turning into the best player and student you can possibly be. You’d be mistaken if you think it comes easy… 

Looking back, I wish I had done a few things differently, Most specifically just being more engaged in the process as a whole. It was not a pleasant experience arriving at practice without knowing my teammates nor my coach, who I have never met or even spoke with before my arrival. Another aspect I wish I had approached differently was the SAT/ACT exams. I was not aware of how these scores could greatly impact the types of colleges I’d be able to attend. At the time I thought that my average high school grades were good enough to get me where I wanted to go and that I  just needed to pass with the minimum to get by. 

How wrong I was… I did not realize that a good score could give me better options, reduce the cost, and a greater opportunity to go to a better school. Think of it in this way. When training, you try to improve every area. As an athlete, you know it is a combination of all your skills. It does not depend solely on your physical ability, but also your mentality, strength, and many other factors. It is the same situation when applying to a college. You will be evaluated for everything you offer, not only as an athlete. I wish I had realized that before. 

Timing ultimately was the main factor that influenced my recruitment the most. I started the recruitment process in the beginning of my senior year, which for me was too late. My lack of knowledge of this process led me to think that I had plenty of time to do everything correctly. My timing was completely off and I had to rush for everything. I didn’t have enough time to prepare for the exams, build a full calendar of tournaments, conciliate school and prepare to move to the United States. It honestly felt like 24 hours in a day just wasn’t enough time to get everything done.

Even through all of these challenges I faced, I was lucky enough to start college on time and live the greatest experience of my life. I was accepted to play college tennis at Delta State University in Mississippi and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything in the world. Someone once told me that being a college student was too much pressure and it was not worth the time. I could agree with the first half of that statement. There is a lot of pressure in the process of college recruitment. But the reward is 100% worth every ounce of work you put into it. Because at the end of the day, the work you put in helps to develop another chapter in the future of your life. Be ready to make this chapter epic!


- Nathalia Sato

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