How To Choose A College: 7 Key Questions To Ask Yourself

  • The college recruiting process is long and stressful. Navigating this process successfully can often mean the difference between attending a Best Fit school and having a great experience, versus attending the wrong school, or no school at all. There are a number of important considerations that factor into ‘how to choose a college’ for college bound athletes. Here are 7 questions to ask yourself while going through the process of choosing a college.

    1. What if I can’t play my sport?

    This may sound strange, but starting your search with athletics at the center can be problematic in the long-run. You need to ask yourself: “If I have a career ending injury, would I still be happy at this college?” If the answer is ‘no’, leave it off the list. Far too often student-athletes pick a college based solely on their sport, which forces them to transfer if they get injured or find that they are not enjoying their athletic experience as much as they anticipated.

    1. Where do I NOT want to go to college?

    This is a great question to ask yourself at the beginning of the process. It will help you pinpoint the areas that matter most to you and will eliminate a ton of colleges right off-the-bat. Remember, even if the team is good, if the rest of the college is not appealing to you then you should eliminate the college from your list.

    1. What do I want to study?

    This is a pretty obvious one, but you’d be surprised at how many students put a college on their list without checking first to see if the college has the specific major that they are interested in! Although some student-athletes go on to play professionally…the statistics say you’re probably not one of them. So do your research and focus on schools that will provide you with a good degree at the end of your four years.

    1. Where do I want to study?

    Your college will be your new home for the next four years of your life, so it is important that you like the location. Some good questions to consider: “How far do I want to live from home? Most Students Stay Within 100 miles “Do I want a school in the city or one in a quieter area?” “Do I like warm weather, cold weather, or something in between?” These simple questions will help you add/subtract a lot of schools from your list and help significantly when thinking about how to choose a college.

    1. What size school do I want?

    There is a big difference between a private college with 2,000 undergraduates and a public college of 20,000 undergrads. While some students intuitively know if they want a “big campus feel” or a “small campus feel”, others just aren’t sure. The best thing for you to do is visit campus during the school year. This will give you a good idea of the size and “feel” of the school. These college tours are very useful for a number of reasons.

    1. Do I want a secular or religious school?

    Many private colleges have religious affiliations, such as Christian, Catholic, Baptist, etc. At some schools these labels have no tangible impact on the daily life of students, but at others it may. Understanding how this impacts the life of the student is important, so be sure to ask about it when you visit the campus.

    1. Can I afford this?

    Each family has to consider its own financial situation when deciding if college is an affordable option. Every college is required to have a Net Price Calculator online, which is a useful tool for families to get a general idea of annual cost, not including potential athletic scholarships. If obtaining a four-year degree means graduating with 6-figures in student loans, you may want to consider other options. Attending a Community or Junior College for two years and then transferring can save a lot of money — as can commuting. Like any big decision, it is important to evaluate all of your options carefully when thinking about how to choose a college in order to set yourself up for success in the long-run. There are also a number of ways to make college more affordable, such as merit-based and need-based aid.

    Thoroughly evaluating the above 7 questions will help you in the beginning of the college recruiting process when you are thinking about how to choose a college. This will help you form an initial college list and hold you in good stead moving forward. For resources and tools to maximize your success in the college recruiting process from start to finish, check out ACA’s individual programs.