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We work with a lot of HS athletes preparing for that transition to college and it's always a fun and stressful time for these athletes as they look for a place to spend the next chapter of their life.
I remember going through the recruiting process and thinking what the hell am I going to do? How can I tell the difference between all these schools?
When I look back, it's one of those - I wish I knew then, what I know now.
Athletes and parents often go into these situations not really knowing what to look for and this can make the whole process really sticky.
Two months ago, we were lucky enough to have 3 area coaches come in and talk to our athletes about things they can be doing to help their chance to play college ball. It was great opportunity for our athletes to hear directly from these college coaches on what they look for and what athletes should look for when choosing a school.
Below we've compiled some of the most important questions athletes and parents need to know before making this big decision.
Take a look at these and have a plan during these exciting times. It will save a lot of headache and solve some potential problems choosing a school.
- Do they have the academic programs/degree you want?
- Do they have a solid academic support staff in place? Will you have access to tutors?
- What is the team's graduation rate?
- Are there alumni that studied in your degree field and what are they doing now? Can you talk to them?
- What was the team's average GPA?
- Do the coaches oversee and look over your grades or will you be on your own?
- Is their an independent academic standard (aside from the NCAA's) that you need to reach in order to play?
- Will you have an opportunity to play right away? If not, are you ok waiting 1, 2, maybe 3 years before playing?
- How would the coaching staff describe their coaching style? Can you see yourself being coach as such?
- Did you meet the strength and conditioning coach? What is his/her approach to training both in-season and off-season? (You’ll be spending a lot of time with this coach)
- Have you watched this team play a game and practice? (Let me tell you, college is a heck of a lot different than HS in both practice and game tempo, intensity, etc)
- Did you meet the assistant or position coaches? They'll often be the ones coaching you far more than the head coach will be.
- Does the coaching staff get out and attend or speak at different conferences to improve at their craft? I can tell you I'd much rather be part of a program that is continually trying to find better more successful ways to coach and plan for me as an athlete and as a team, rather than just be stuck in their ways.
- What is a program's track record in terms of injury rates? This is especially important for sports like baseball, soccer, basketball. Are the same injuries occurring every year like ACL, UCL tears? If so, this may mean something is going on that increases risk of these injuries ie over-use, poor training models, dangerous practice habits, etc. You don't want to become one of these statistics, so know if you're a pitcher and every year they have guys having Tommy John Surgery, a red flag needs to go off.
- How tough of an adjustment, socially will it be for you? This is HUGE! You'll be spending the next 4-5 years of your life in this city/community. Will you fit in? Is it too far or too close to home? Is the social environment enough or too much for you?
- Is it public or private? This may seem weird, but there are usually some vast differences between a public vs private university. Most private institutions have some sort of religious background and this may mean mandatory religious education classes, required weekly mass, living on-campus for 2-3 years, no opposite sex in dorm rooms, required class attendance, dry campus, more expensive tuition, etc. Public institutions tend to be more open and allow more freedom than private institutions, but on the same hand they tend to be larger, provide less "intimate" education (larger classes, less hands on advising), and often don't require attendance to class. Overall each option provides different pros and cons, know them.
- How much is tuition? Can you get grants, scholarships, or help paying this? With today's cost of college education, this question needs to be asked. A school may look great and everything, but is it worth paying off 100K for the next 20-years of your life?
Hope this helps all those aspiring athletes gain clarification as they choose their college. Making a great decision at this junction will determine many things in an athletes future. Be sure to leave no stone un-turned and know the details of your decision.
Go Get 'Em