Choosing a College Planning for College

How Does a Student-athlete Choose the Best College?

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Student athletes have specific needs and concerns when they choose the college that’s best for them.  Here’s how they should go about that choice.

First – Make some decisions

  • What are your athletic talents and what level of player are you?
  • What level of participation do you want in college?
    • Do you want highly competitive opportunities and varsity membership, or would you be happy on an intramural team?
    • Do you want a play level that will challenge your talents to grow, or do you want the opportunity to play what you love without too much competition?

Next – Begin selecting colleges

It’s important to do your own research and not look only at schools whose coaches are recruiting you.

  • Make sure you choose a school for more than its athletics and its coaches! Remember, you might have an injury that prevents you from playing, you may be unhappy with the program and quit, or the coach may move on to other opportunities. What will you be left with? It’s the college, not the team! Be sure to review the more general common mistakes people make when choosing a college as well.
  • Consider which colleges players from your high school have attended. Did they play for their college? Were they successful? Were they happy with the sports program?
  • Consider the match of the college and your level of play and talent.Consider looking at several schools within the same conference. There may be other schools in the same conference that are similar and worthwhile and have a better fit for you.
  • Consider which division of college you want to look at and include on your selection list. There are 3 college divisions defined by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA):
    • Division I – top competition, high commitment and visibility, athletic scholarships available
    • Division II – above-average competition, some level of commitment and visibility, scholarship opportunities
    • Division III – a range of competition from fairly competitive to no-cut teams, academics are first, and there are no athletic scholarships.
  • Note: Division I and II schools require eligibility based on academics, achievement, and course work, so consider this factor as well.

Last – Get pertinent information

  • Look at college teams’ websites to find out about the program and the team.
  • Call coaches about their programs and the needs of their programs to see if you have a fit.
  • Visit the campus. On the tour visit the athletic facilities and all other parts of the campus. Meet the coach and ask about expectations. How much time would be required of you both in and out of season? What percentage of athletes graduate, and how long does that take? Attend a game and talk to both the coach and the players to get a feel for participating on the team. Ask questions during the college interview.

Only after you have made a thorough investigation in all these areas will you be ready to make an informed decision about which college will best fit your athletic interests.