1. My father (or mother) went there.
2. They’re my favorite team.
3. I like the campus.
4. A lot of my friends are going there.
5. I don’t want to be far from my girlfriend (or boyfriend).
The Right Reasons
While these may seem like good reasons to choose a school and program, if you’re an athlete that wants to compete at the next level, your requirements need to be a lot deeper than these five things. Here are five right reasons to choose a particular school. It is best if you have a combination of two or three.
1. They have a strong academic program in my potential major. Your athletic career is most likely going to end after college, so think long term. What will carry you into life after college? The knowledge and skills you acquire in college. In other words, what you study and major in. Your job depends on it. Your future depends on it.
2. There is a spot for me to compete on the team. If there’s an opening at your position or specialty, then that’s a good sign. If the coach expresses to you that he sees you competing for that opening, it is an even better sign. This is something you need to look at, because you don’t want to sit on the bench for a couple years while you wait for your slot to open up.
3. It is a wise financial decision. If you receive a full scholarship, then that makes financial sense. However, in most sports, you won’t receive a full ride. Then you need to calculate your out of pocket expenses after the scholarship and other grants. Don’t be fooled by the amount the coach is offering. Be wise and look at the bottom line. All schools have different costs, so add them up.
4. I hear good things about the program. This is important. Do your homework. When I say “hear good things,” I mean ask current players, read up on the program, use the Internet to do some research. Find out what the real reputation is.
5. The input I receive confirms that this is a good choice. Talk over the program and school with your parents, get input from your coach, spend time with your guidance counselor, and seek out others who have gone to school there. Don’t make your decision in a vacuum or based on hope that it will be a good fit. Get confirmations from those you trust.
I would encourage you to have a discussion, athlete and parent, and each of you weigh in on the 10 things I’ve laid out for you here. You’re making the biggest decision to this point in your life. Make it the best decision.