This information is not to rush you to make a decision, but as you start to compare colleges these are factors we recommend thinking about.
Here is something you should read through to help you balance your decision-making:
Make a pros/cons list of each school and create a spreadsheet. Always keep a ranked top 10 list of schools that you are currently corresponding with. Go through each factor below and rate the school.
Location: When making a decision about which school is best for you, do not let distance be a huge factor in your final pick. Making a decision based on how far or close the school is generally has little effect on your college experience. No matter if you’re 20 minutes away from home or across the country, you will get home sick. It’s just finding out who you are and what you want in life. At first it might be a bit hard adjusting to your new surroundings, but as you make friends and new experiences, you are going to love it! As an athlete, you have a whole team of friends the first day of practice. What about climate? Do you want a year around mild climate or seasons or does it matter? The climate can make a big difference to your attitude and mood. Visit other areas if you think you would like something different. Check different areas out.
Type of School: Do you want to attend a small or large school? Going from a small to large school is frightening to many students. If you are not sure how you might react, visit some college campuses and sit in on some classes. Do you prefer small or large lecture type classes? Do you want a city or country atmosphere? Many times students like the reputation for a college but are turned off if they think the college is too isolated or in too big of a city. Is safety an issue? Do you like big city atmosphere? Does the college feel like home? Do you want diversity in the student population? For example how do you feel about ethnic diversity or students from all parts of the country? Do you want to live on campus or off campus? Do people stay on campus over the weekend or go home?
Academics: It is important to choose your school for education first. Ask yourself if you could go to this school even if you were not an athlete. What does the school offer besides athletics that is intriguing to you? Start by asking yourself questions such as: What do you want out of college? Does the school have the major you are interested in or your second option? You may change your mind, so always have a second option. It is extremely common for someone to switch majors in college. You are now 18 years old or close to it, you have a lot to learn and experience. Start simply…do you want a business, professional, or technical career? This may help you narrow the type of colleges to research and put on your list without totally limiting it. Can I succeed at this school?
Athletics: Make a list so you can use as you research colleges and teams. Pull together some questions to help you make some choices. What do you want out of college athletics? Are you thinking professional or a way to pay for college and have fun? What level of athletics do you want: NCAA Division I, II or ACHA? What kind of team record did the college have last year? Have you spoken to anyone on the team about athletic experiences? Do they have nice sports facilities? Does the team play against other schools I want to compete against? Do they travel far or play in tournaments that you want to compete in? What is important to you? Would I choose this college if I were not playing on the team? Would I be happy as a bench warmer? Would I still select this school if there is a different coach? Did the staff and team care about each other? How does the coach motivate the team? Was the coaching staff and team: friendly – supportive – sincere -enthusiastic – caring – hospitable -honest? Remember: they are supposedly on their best behavior to impress you–it will not get better! Do I like and admire this coach? What do the players say about him/her? Is he/she returning for the next season? Is this realistic?
Big fish in lake (NCAA DIII)? Small fish in Ocean?
Financial: Can your family pay if your athletic/leadership/ merit scholarship is not enough? What will be your expected family contribution at the school compared to others? What academic, merit, need-based, non need-based aid is available? Can I afford the personal costs of attending here (travel, fees, tuition, and room and board)? If they offer a partial or full scholarship, could it be terminated?