We want student-athletes to remember that going to college is not a four years choice, it’s a lifetime decision. So do a proper self evaluation from an academic and athletic perspective based on your abilities. If the evaluation is done right, the search of looking for your ideal college fit will become a lot easier. We’ve outlined five major points to help you get started on discovering your next college destination. Do your research, talk to other players, visit schools and get as much feedback as possible about the schools that interest you.
1. What Should I Look For When Choosing A College?
Do your research and choose wisely because this is not a 4-year choice, it is a lifetime decision. Choose a location first and then search online for schools based on your grades, test scores and athletic playing level. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you want to stay within your state or go out of state?
- Do you want to attend a small or big school, private or public?
- Where can you apply?
- What can you afford for tuition?
- As an athlete, what level can you compete at? Make sure to be realistic and get properly evaluated.
- Are there any scholarships available?
2. What Are Some Criteria To Consider When You Are Looking Into Schools?
Does the school offer your major? What you want to study and get your degree in should have the most impact when choosing your college. At the end of your college-playing career is the degree that will benefit you the most.
- Where is the school located? Think about the climate/weather and distance from home, family, and friends. Travel expenses can quickly add up.
- Do you like the coaching philosophy, team’s dynamics and the athletic department? If you want to compete in college, how much you enjoy your athlete experience is an important aspect to consider.
- Do you see yourself attending this school if you couldn’t play in the team? Things happen in college and many athletes don’t play all four years on their college team, so it’s crucial to be able to finish your degree and still be happy if you can’t play.
- What division can I play? Division 1 and Division 2 schools offer athletic scholarships where division 3 doesn’t offer due to lower budgets.
3. What Tests Do I Need To Take?
The tests you need to take depend on what collegiate level you want to play.
- NCAA Divisions I and II require: SAT or the ACT. (For D1 and D2 schools, the NCAA Eligibility Center uses a sliding scale to see if your standardized test score is high enough).
- The NAIA determines academic eligibility by looking at your GPA, class rank, and standardized test scores, the SAT or ACT.
- To be declared eligible to compete at an NAIA school you must hit a specified mark in two out of three of those categories: a 2.0 GPA out of a 4.0 scale, finish ranked in the top 50% of your high school class, or score above a combined 860 on the reading and writing portions of the SAT or score an 18 on the Enhanced ACT.
- If you’re an international student from a non-native English speaking country you’ll be required to take the TOEFL (Test Of English as a Foreign Language) exam. The TOEFL exam evaluates a student’s ability to read, understand and write in English. To find out more information about the TOEFL exam click here.
4. Can I Transfer From One College To Another?
You are able to transfer from one college to another as long as you have earned at least 24 credit hours at the initial university you attended. If you were to transfer more than on one occasion during your college career then you will be asked to sit-out a full year of competition in order to regain your eligibility. The admissions office at the receiving university will decide acceptance of college credit from the previous university. There is a chance that not all credits will be transferable and these cases are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Also, if you play in a Junior College and you want to transfer to a Division 1 school, then you will need to graduate from your previous school. Again, keep in mind that not all credits may be transferable.
5. Tools To Help You Search For Your Ideal CollegeBelow we have outlined a few resources to help you search and find your ideal college based on your realistic academic and athletic abilities.
Big Future – College Search. Find colleges and universities by major, types, location and more.
Peterson’s – College Search. Find a college that is the best fit for you.
College View – College Search Tool & University Selection Guide
College Xpress – The most unique and useful search available.
Fast Web – College Search
Naviance – College And Career Readiness Solutions
So, regardless of where you are in the college recruiting process, you now a better understanding of what to look for when you search for colleges. Don’t get discouraged if you haven’t find your ideal school fit yet. There is a place for all student-athletes, you just have to work a bit harder to get there. It’s time to search and choose a college.