Choosing a college or university is a complicated process even for the average student. Student-athletes, however, have nearly twice the considerations. They need to select a school that offers the best sports scholarship coupled with the best academic program. There will always be a little bit of giving and take, but with a bit of careful consideration, it should not be too difficult to weigh the options and make the best possible decision.
An article on the NCAA website outlines all the various considerations on both sides of the equation. We recommend checking it out and noting which items you feel well-prepared to manage and which will require a little prior planning and advice. Here are a few highlights on both the athletic and academic considerations when looking for a college as an athlete and some of our observations on them.
Here are some of the things that should be discussed with the admissions staff:
Classroom and sports time – It is essential to know what will be expected of you in terms of things like the number of credits you’ll be able to take, how you can expect to manage classroom time with athletic responsibilities and more. If you intend to supplement a more academic experience while fulfilling the terms of a scholarship, choose a school whose scheduling for athletes revolves more around class than practice.
For most serious athletes, though, a minimalist approach to academics is the more likely choice. That means taking a minimum of credits to maintain status and financial aid and getting help with tasks like taking class notes or writing an essay. The latter is easy to arrange through a custom academic writing service. Choose one that has writers on staff that specialize in writing material that is relevant to the subject of the paper.
Terms of the scholarship – Know and understand the expenses for which you will be responsible versus those covered under the scholarship. Student loans and other forms of financial aid will need to be in place to cover any shortfalls, or it will be up to you to pay out of pocket, something very few students can readily afford. This is why it is so important to understand everything about finances, financial responsibilities, and student loan consolidation before choosing a school.
Student life – The campus you choose will ostensibly be hone for the next four years (or even more) so knowing a few things about the culture and climate of the campus is an excellent idea. What kinds of clubs and extracurriculars are popular? Do they have student activity programs? What about special rules for freshmen or students living off-campus (if you wind up someplace close enough to commute). Learn all you can about what happens outside the classroom and decide if the campus and campus life are good fits.
Here are a few essential questions to ask the coaching staff:
The position you are being recruited to play – Don’t take for granted that you will play the same position you played in high school. It is always up to the coach and coaching staff on how to make the best use of their players. You might wind up playing a position that is less desired than another. Is that all right with you? If not, it’s time to keep looking.
Coaching philosophy/style – Ask specific questions regarding the approach the head coach and assistants take in training their players. Nothing can end a scholarship faster than a college athlete’s inability to work effectively with his or her coaches.
Transferring to another school – This is always at the discretion and permission the current school’s athletics department. Pin them down to specific answers like how often transfer requests get granted and one or more examples of the school granting them.
Redshirting – Redshirting is the process by which a coach keeps an athlete out of competition his or her first year as a means of developing specific skills or extending the playing eligibility period. There are both academic and athletic ramifications to this decision so understanding the preferred school’s policy on this is very important.
Making the Right Choice
All of the above are important considerations when selecting a college as an athlete, but they are far from all of them. We hope you will take a few minutes to read the NCAA article and seek out other credible sources for more information about the entire process, as well as this article that outlines some of the best colleges for student-athletes. Always weigh the options carefully and make the best possible choices for your future.