The Hard Truth
As a potential college recruit embarking on your initial college search you have many items to think about. Initially, none are more important than which schools will allow you to excel educationally.
It’s likely we’ve all seen or heard the NCAA commercial stating, “There are over 400,000 NCAA student-athletes and just about all of us will be going pro in something other than sports.” I feel this is one of the best campaigns the NCAA has ever green lit because it tells the truth.
Recruiting Dream Tempered with Reality
For most, your dreams of playing a professional sport should be dashed from the very beginning. Getting an education should be priority number 1, not professional sports. If you work really hard, have the drive, and the talent then maybe you will be given an opportunity to play your sport professionally, but the percentages are very small.
Balance is the Key
Keeping your grades up doesn’t mean losing focus on your sport. Instead it means needing to create a positive work-life balance. Work-life balance is something you will strive to find throughout your career as a collegiate athlete and an eventual member of the work force.
In college, your “work” is being an athlete and student while “life” is everything else; they must find common ground to be successful. The issue here is that some prospective student-athletes don’t think about all the factors college life presents when they start making decisions about school.
Learn to Prioritize
While some might choose a school for its educational benefits others will choose the school because it has a great football or basketball team that they want to play for. Another group might choose to look at the affordability of a school while other groups look at how far from home the school is located.
The idea with all of these decisions is to find the school that offers the best mix for you as an individual.
It’s Your Decision
The difficult part of the equation is that student-athletes sometimes take into account the opinions of their parents, friends, and relatives, forgetting about what they want and what they can handle. Remember, ultimately you are the person going to this school for 4-5 years, you are the person looking to graduate, and you are the person who is playing the sport; don’t let others sway your decisions to a school you’re not comfortable with.
Talk it Out
In saying this, I am a true believer that you should always talk out any and all decisions with those closest to you. When you do speak with them, have solid reasons why you are choosing to look at a specific university. Maybe their football team is great so you are interested, but make sure their academics are a good fit–do they carry your major and are you on route to be accepted if you apply?
What Can You Afford?
Know what you can afford to pay with and without a scholarship opportunity and know how far you are willing to travel to attend school. Can you afford to travel back and forth and can your family travel to visit you? These of course are just a few questions you should be thinking about when initially searching out schools.
Do the Research
Once you are able to speak openly and clearly with your family about these decisions it’s time to move onto contacting coaches. Just as you did with your family, coaches want to know why you think their school is a fit for you and, again, it should be beyond athletics.
Proper research into the areas I have mentioned will give you an opportunity to impress coaches with your knowledge of their program and school. Research shows that you care about more than just a scholarship opportunity. Your research also shows maturity, a character trait important to coaches. It is maturity that allows you to properly create a work-life balance and ultimately see success.