What are they...What do they mean?

Now that the college football season has started, high school prospects (both seniors and juniors) are receiving invitations to attend college football games. These visits are classified as “unofficial” visits.
“Official Visits” are those sanctioned by the NCAA for recruiting purposes and allow the schools to pay for a prospect’s transportation to campus, his meals and lodging while on campus, and certain entertainments expenses. Parents can also be housed, fed, and entertained. “Unofficial Visits” do not allow the school to pay for anything except to provide three complimentary tickets to a home athletic contest and a game program. Coaches are allowed to meet and talk with families and show them around campus.
In the fall these unofficial visits take the form of visiting campus to attend football games. Typically the players arrive early, tour the football facilities (perhaps campus as well, but game day traffic usually prevents that), and talk with the coaches prior to the game. Many times a meal is provided, but the prospect and his guests (doesn’t have to be parents) have to pay the cost of the meal. The prospect is provided three complimentary passes (make sure you bring your ID, because you will have to show it to sign for the tickets). You don’t actually get tickets; you just get a free pass into what usually turns out to be a “prime” location to view the game.
By all means, take advantage of this invite when it comes. You will have to work out an agreement with your high school coach because many times your team works out on Saturday morning and that sometimes presents a time conflict. Going to a college game gives you an opportunity to meet and talk with the coaches and check out the facilities, i.e. locker room, weight room, training room etc. Standing on the field during a pre-game warm-up gives you a great opportunity to view college players up close and a feel for whether this school is a place you could see yourself. It is a great way to begin sorting out the decision-making process for yourself. Don’t always go to the same school. You may have a favorite, but until somebody offers you a scholarship, it is good to see several places, so you have some basis for comparison.
Face to face contact is the very best way to sell yourself, so if you are junior trying to make a first impression---clean up good, don’t dress sloppy, learn some conversation schools, and take your parents, not your buddies, who aren’t being recruited. In many cases this is your first opportunity to interact with someone who may later pay for your entire college education.