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Finding a Best-Fit College

By GameDay | Published on: 2014 | Source: GameDay Conslutant

Remember, college coaches and their recruiting staff will do their homework on you. Now it's time to return the favor. Before narrowing your choice of schools, use the following guidelines to determine the school that fits you best academically and athletically.

As a student-athlete, your final targeted Best-Fit college list may need to be revised several times before it’s complete. Unlike most students, you’ll need to go through the college search process twice: first as a student, then as an athlete. Once you’ve targeted your Academic Fit  schools and categorized them as “reach”,“middle” and “likely”, you’ll then need to cross-reference that list with your “Athletic Fit” list.

Keep in mind that your athletic talent should not be the only factor determining where you’ll attend school; treat it instead as a tool to help you gain acceptance to the best overall college that fits your social, academic, and athletic search criteria.

Best-Fit Tips

  • Finding a college that is a best-fit academically is an important factor to your college success
  • What's the best way to find colleges that match your academic and athletic goals?
  • First, Identify your priorities
  • Next research the characteristics of each college
  • Lastly, Contact the coaches and visit the schools

Type of College

  • Colleges are either two or four-year schools
  • Colleges are also categorized as either public or private
  • Each college vary in size and resources
  • Public colleges are more affordable for students who live in-state

Size

  • Look into the number of students enrolled in graduate and undergraduate programs in which you're interested
  • What extracurricular activities are offered?
  • What type of academic facilities does each school offer? 
  • Be sure to take note of the athletic facilities/fields available  

Location

  • Do you want to live home or be able to come home frequently?
  • Is the college located in a rural area or in a more urban environment?
  • Is public transportation available?

Academic Programs

  • Do you know what you want to study?
  • If so, you can research the reputations of academic departments in the field that interest you
  • If you are undecided, pick an academically balanced institution that offers a range of majors and programs
  • Students normally don't pick a major until the end of their sophomore year
  • Most colleges offer counseling to help students find a focus

Campus Life

All student-athletes should consider what college life will be like beyond the classroom and athletic field. It's important for student-athletes to balance socializing, academics, and athletics

 Consider the following:

  • What extracurricular activities, club sports, and special interest groups are available?
  • Does the community around the college welcome the students?
  • Is there an ethnic or religious group in which to take part?
  • How does fraternities and sororities influence college life?
  • How are the dorms assigned?
  • What is the general location of dorms to classes?
  • Do most students live on campus for four years?
  • Is housing available off campus?
  • How does the meal plan work?
  • What relationship does the college coach have with the alumni?
  • What role do the alumni play?
  • How involved are the alumni with student-athletes?
  • What role does the Alumni have with Internships?

Cost

  • Today's college price tag makes the cost of attending an accredited institution an important consideration for most students and parents
  • At the same time, virtually all colleges work to ensure that academically qualified students from every circumstance can find Financial Aid that allows them to attend
  • When Considering Cost, look beyond the price tag

Admission Criteria 

  • You should consider what the colleges you are interested in require for Admissions.
  • Some colleges require a minimum grade point average(GPA), while others are more flexible.
  • Find out if the colleges that are a best-fit require specific exams such as the SAT or ACT.
  • Also, you want to research if the colleges offer credit for AP, IB, and CLEP exams.

Retention and Graduation Rates

  • One of the best ways to measure a school's quality and satisfaction of its students is to learn the percentage of student-athletes who returned after the first year
  • Also, strong retention rate and graduation rates are good  indicators of a well established academic, social and financial support system for student athletes

Level of Athletic Competition

  • Be realistic when considering how much playing time you will get and when
  • If you want to play immediately you might have to consider a smaller school
  • Remember a coach is judged on wins and losses, not on academics

Time Commitment

  • Playing college sports is a big commitment and is very time consuming
  • Just how much time your team requires is something you should seriously consider. Will it interfere with my classes?
  • How much time is spent per day in season and off season?
  • How much time is spent traveling?
  • Always remember you're in college to be a student first

Coaching Staff

  • A coach might promise you the world to land you in the program
  • Ultimately, it comes down to whom you trust and feel comfortable around
  • Take into account his/her coaching style and philosophy, try to get to know the entire coaching staff
  • Also, does your coach value education first?
  • Does he/she have a game plan to help you with your studies?

Link to Article: Finding a Best-Fit College