How should you research colleges? What should you look for in a college? Here are a few priorities that can guide your search: distance of the college from home, academic considerations, the athletic program, and the values of the school (for example a religious school). Which of those are most important to you?
Do they have your sport?
Use the internet. Make a list of colleges that have your sport, not all will, unless you are a basketball player. Spend time researching each school and their athletics program. Figure out what schools you want to attend and those you don’t. You can learn a lot by yourself.
What type of school are you looking for?
Do you want to go to a state school, Protestant school, Catholic school, private but not religious? If you can narrow this down, your search will narrow down as well. State schools are the cheapest option.
What about the location? Do you want to go to school close to home? Do you want to buy airline tickets to travel home for Christmas?
Does the school have academic majors that are in line with your interest? If you are looking for a very specific major and the school does not have it, there may be a way around the problem. For instance, you want to go into sports physical therapy, and that is not listed.
At least consider a school that has a great science program (Biology/Anatomy/Physiology) and may have some athletic training classes, but not a major. Many careers that require an advanced degree allow for variety in undergraduate studies.
When you visit campus ask what other students have done with those majors. Did you know over half of all incoming freshmen don’t stay in the major they begin with, and even fewer end up in the career they thought they were pursuing.
What should you look for in the coach?
When researching a team, begin by looking at the coach; pull up the archives and see what has been going on long term. How stable have the coaches been? There is no guarantee that the coach you are recruited by will be there when you graduate but you can look for indicators. How long have previous coaches been there? If it is a bad place to work, you will see a lot of turnover. If your coach hates their job, you better believe that will impact your college experience.
Look across other sports for this as well. It will give you a good indication of the environment of the school. Coaches may leave for positive reasons, they may be advancing their careers.
Once you start talking to coaches, you can evaluate their personalities. First, make sure you like the school. Coaches come and go.
What should you look for in a team?
Finally, look at the team roster. Take time to read the player bios. Look at what high schools and clubs current players came from. This should give you an indication of the level of play and whether you will fit in.
If you are interested in what you are seeing, don’t be afraid to creep some of the players on Facebook and see what they are like.
If there is a player from your high school or club, they can be a great resource. You don’t have to know them well. Being from the same area, they could be an advocate and a resource for you if you connect with them.
Next Read, First Contact With a College Coach.
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