Choosing a college that’s the right fit for you is likely one of the most important decisions so far. That’s why it’s worth the time to search for colleges, look into their sports programs, check out financial aid options, research what academic majors are offered and make sure you have all the academic requirements taken care of.
Though it may seem overwhelming, and there may be plenty of colleges that don’t seem like the right fit, you will always have options.
Here are some questions to ask yourself throughout the process:
Does the school offer my major?
Would I be proud to represent that school as a student athlete?
Is this a smart financial decision?
Is this school looking for a student athlete in my position?
Am I willing to travel or do I want to stay close to home?
Can I see myself living here for 4+ years?
Would I be happy here if I didn’t play a sport?
Is it the right size? Will I be able to find my community?
Start by having conversations with your support system. Your family, coaches, mentors and even some former teammates who have been through the process.
Your high school will likely have college guidance available to help you navigate creating a list of schools or using online resources to start the college search. Be sure to schedule time with your school counselor or academic advisor.
From here, begin to make a list of schools that peak your interest both academically and athletically. Be realistic about how you’re looking at schools based on your academic performance and athletic abilities, not everyone is going to go play D1 or attend an Ivy League school and that’s okay! And don’t worry about following the same path as your teammates and peers, your recruiting journey is your own!
Your college list should consist of 10 – 15 schools that are a good mix of DI, DII, DIII and NAIA:
3 – 5 Safety schools — you’re almost certain you’ll get accepted into these schools.
5 – 7 Target schools — the most realistic schools based on your academic stats.
3 – 5 Reach schools — a few stretch schools that may be more of a challenge to get into based on your GPA and ACT/SAT scores.
Most importantly, start early. Giving yourself extra time to search online and visit schools in person will help you not feel rushed to apply and make a decision in time for signing day or other important deadlines.
Now that you’ve narrowed down your list and contacted some coaches, it’s time for a school visit. This is the best way to decide if a school is a good fit for you — you’ll get a feel for the campus size, culture, community and maybe even meet some potential future teammates and coaches in the process.
The college can pay for transportation to and from the college, lodging and meals, as well as reasonable entertainment expenses, including tickets to a Division I or Division II home sports event.
Prior to an official visit you’ll need to provide the college with a copy of your high school transcript and register with the eligibility center
Official visits are not allowed during a recruiting shutdown period or a dead period (when colleges are not allowed to have any recruits on campus).
The college does not pay for your and your parents to visit, the only expenses they can provide are complimentary tickets to an athletic contest.
You may make as many unofficial visits as you’d like after the first permissible date in each sport.
You are not allowed to talk with a coach if the unofficial visit is during a dead period.