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College Decision Time for Athletes

So many questions rush in and out of a high school athlete’s head when they need to decide on where to study and where to play in college. The college process starts out as an exciting journey filled with trips to small and large campuses, meetings with admissions counselors, and one on one time with college coaches. As we approach the end of the college process, timely concerns need to be addressed before the final decision is made. Ideally, the decision becomes easier because the institutions considered have the student-athletes major and the coach you have met with has watched you play (evaluated your skills) and has expressed interest in you by extending an invitation to try out for the team or through an athletic scholarship. Still the prospect of a 17 or 18 year old deciding their fate (and moving away from home) is daunting.

Parents, here are some solutions to ease the stress of your student-athlete:

  1. Discuss which school has the best academic offering for their program of study including class size, internship opportunities, study abroad options, and statistics on employment post graduation.
  2. Determine which athletic program is the best fit for your student-athlete by taking a realistic look at the level of competition and the ranking of the team within the conference or nationally. Take time as a family to discuss the similarities and differences between Division I, II, and III programs you have considered.
  3. Share the pros and cons, likes and dislikes of the top 5 schools visited. Every family member should be able to weigh in and provide their insight regarding the college decision. Student-athletes have a difficult task at hand and will appreciate learning what each family member thinks about their choices of institutions.
  4. Spending time with the college coach and members of the team are extremely important components to making the right decision. Student-athletes need to feel a level of comfort and understand the team culture before making the college selection. An overnight visit including class visits, watching a practice, and spending casual time with the team will reveal a great deal of information about the program. When a student-athlete can ask questions free of adult eyes they will be able to get some true insights regarding the school and team. The key is to ask questions and then determine if the school is the right fit.

Decision making is never easy especially when high school students are trying to find academic and athletic matches at a wide array of diverse institutions. When a student feels comfortable about the athletic program and confident in the academic offerings they will get that “gut feeling” which will help them make one of the most important decisions in their lives.