Let me get the ball rolling!
Pre-reads: do all HA schools do them - D3 and D1? I read another thread saying if the school hasn’t done a pre-read then they’re not really interested. Does a pre-read simply give the coach a sense of whether the player would get in - or does it have any significance when (if) the actual application is submitted later?
All schools need to know that the player can get in, especially the HA ones! Otherwise they may not be able to recruit them...Some schools operate on a traffic light basis: green light from a pre read from Admissions means coach can recruit/support, yellow may mean the coach comes back and tells the player they need to get their scores up to X or need certain grades, and red light is do not recruit/not a viable candidate for the school. I am sure there are examples of kids getting offers without a pre read first but they are likely very rare. Offers only come when the coach knows from Admissions that the player can get in. It has no bearing on actual admissions except that the coach then knows if they give support to this player, then they will be accepted barring any unusual circumstances. Ivies are slightly different as they have "likely letter" issued from admissions.
My son has had several schools say they’d like to do pre-reads. For a couple of the schools he probably isn’t interested - or they’re much lower on his list. Should he decline the pre-read since he’s likely not interested in that school or is it good to keep the door open? We want to be respectful of their time but he’s also trying to see where things go with the schools near the top of his list.
First of call, congrats! The fact that coaches are asking to do pre-reads is exciting! You will get different advice here. If on the list, even lower, then why not? Many people here believe that getting the first offer is crucial, and can help coax other schools to speed up their processes. Our personal experience was that my son did do pre reads at several "safety" schools, albeit HA ones, they were safety for him as he was only going to even think about going to these schools if things did not work out with like 20 other schools higher on his list. They were not safety schools academically (in fact some were the most selective of HA schools), just schools he thought he was not as interested in. We also did not want to be disrespectful as the HA coaching world is connected, We were much more selective about visits. And he did NOT get offers from everyone who asked for his scores and transcripts...
What does it really mean to have an offer from a D3? Is it different if it is a HA D3 where they don’t have pull with admissions? Or a D1 without scholarship?
There are many answers to these questions already discussed on this board; you can do a search and find some of them. In short, a D3 offer is a little dependent on the school. Many D3 coaches get slots like their D1 counterparts and players in these slots are almost always admitted. There is no NLI signed since there is no $$ for athletic scholarships. However, most D3 coaches will ask their "committed" players to apply ED as a quid pro quo for getting the coach's support. Most HA D3 do have pull with Admissions. There are some exceptions, like MIT and others discussed on this board, where they may have pull but not final say. If you have questions about specific schools please feel free to PM me. There are cases as you may hear on this board of players not applying ED but these are the exception. D1 without a scholarship is hard to know if you mean Ivies and the service academies or if you mean a D1 but no athletic money given.
And from Chico: if I can tag a further question onto this topic: When is a pre-read a "real" pre-read? A few coaches have asked my son for his transcript and test scores, but I haven't heard talk of getting a letter from admissions or anything like that. When (and how) would "we're interested, send us your transcript" become an actual offer?
Again, this will vary by schools but I have not heard of a non real pre read! A pre read is a good thing as an indication of interest. Not all pre reads will result in offers of course. The process usually takes a few days to even a few weeks and goes something like this:
coach asks player for scores/transcripts
player submits scores/transcripts
coach submits scores/transcripts to admissions counterpart
admissions informs coach as to admissibility of player
if admissible, coach decides whether to offer player. There is nothing the player receives from admissions (Ivy likely letters the exception)
So the "we are interested, send transcripts" you heard may yield an offer and may not. It may mean admissions does not feel strongly about the player's chances of admission. It may mean the coach has not made a final decision depending upon where he is in the recruiting process and the class of 2020. In my 2017's case, he was strung along by several HA schools that did a pre read. We knew he was admissible given grades and scores anywhere, so we knew it was all about the coach's process and where they were on filling their class. In some cases, he asked. Some were honest enough, incl an Ivy that had been interested in him for 2 years at HF in NY, that barring anyone decommitting, it was unlikely to work out but if he applied and got in on his own he would likely be on the team. In another case, the NESCAC told him they could be "picky" (their words) and would keep him posted. They never offered. Some coaches came back immediately (shortest one was maybe 2 days) with an offer to support him. One took months from when he submitted his scores and transcripts.
Hope this helps. It is an exciting time for you HA 2020 parents!