There are many things to consider when searching for the right university/college to attend. Most student-athletes are interested in the largest Division I Universities in their area because they watch their teams on television, have friends or family that attended the school, or have been on the campus for sporting events. There are over 2000 potential athletic programs to choose from. Therefore, players need to start by making a "List" of schools that they would be interested in attending.
You should start with a list of 50 schools. This first list will normally have all the top schools and be primarily Division I because that is what you are familiar with. Next make a secondary list of schools and be sure to include Division II, Division III, JC, NAIA and CC. Continuously add schools to your list as you learn more about schools you did not know or contact you directly.
The first thought that comes to athletes when choosing a school is concerning their sport. Players want to go to the best program possible and compete at the highest level. However, finding the right school for you is the most important topic. You must remember that this is where you will be living the next 2 to 4 years of your life. If you are not going to be happy at the school, then your performance in the classroom and on the field will suffer.
Below is a "Priority List" of items to rank by importance to you:
- Location of school
- Specific Major
- Athletic Program
- Playing Time
- Coaching Staff
More Questions to Consider
- Would you red shirt in the right situation?
- Would you consider a walk-on scenario?
- Would you consider a 2 year school to try and get to a higher level school?
- Will you need financial aid for college?
Take a look at how you answered these questions to see where your priorities lie. The key is trying to find the right school that offers the most of what you are looking for. Going to a major Division I University may sound great but are you going to be happy 15 hours from home and possibly being the little fish in the big pond? Maybe, maybe not. Everyone is different. Some schools can be smaller than the current high school you attend and you may feel it is not enough for you.
Once you have identified a minimum of 50 schools that meet your criteria it is time to get out there and visit them. This part is tough because it means traveling on weekends, setting up meetings with coaches and admissions offices, and sacrificing time away from other things you would like to be doing. Visiting the school is a must before deciding to attend or signing a National Letter of Intent. Making sure the atmosphere, the team, the coaching staff, the city, etc. all feel right is extremely important.
Get started early building your list and add or subtract schools as you go. The more options you give yourself, the better chance of finding the right college.