Properly evaluating and comparing schools as you navigate the college recruiting process is extremely important and can have long term implications on your college experience and outcome. To put things into perspective, the 4-year graduation rate in the US is approximately 40%. This means that you are more likely to add additional years to your degree (or drop out of college) than to graduate in 4 years. In fact, about 39% of students transfer to another college or drop out altogether after freshman year. What is the reason for these statistics? Why is the transfer rate so high and the 4-year graduation rate so low? The answer is generally that many students are making the decision to attend colleges that are not a good fit for them. This is usually the result of a flawed college evaluation process that does not consider the correct factors when determining which schools to attend, or in other words, which schools are a best fit.
The recruiting and decision making process can be overwhelming for student-athletes in particular with so many colleges to choose from and with an additional set of criteria with which to evaluate schools – athletic criteria. Many student-athletes focus primarily on the athletic component to drive their evaluation process, asking questions such as “which division should I be aiming for?” and “what team am I good enough to play for?” and forming an initial college list based on these types of athletic questions. This is very much in line with what the majority of college recruiting companies tell you: focus primarily on athletic factors when deciding which colleges to pursue. Most recruiting companies place little emphasis on non-athletic factors. In fact, their technology is limited with the amount and quality of non-athletic college information for families to evaluate. ACA has learned from 30 years working with colleges and college coaches that this type of athletic-centric approach is actually harmful for student-athletes, greatly increasing the potential for a poor college outcome.
ACA advocates a different approach to evaluating and selecting schools: finding schools that are a good fit both on and off the field. Less than 2% of college athletes go on to play professionally, while most see their college education shape their career and the rest of their lives. This highlights the importance of the non-athletic component of the college experience. Student-athletes spend the majority of their time in the classroom and within the campus environment and culture. If their college selection is based solely on athletics and fails to consider major, geography and other non-athletic factors, they are much more likely to have a negative college experience. This negative experience often leads to poor grades, transferring colleges or dropping out of college. With every additional year of college costing an average of $60,000, not to mention the potential long term effects of a poor college experience, making the correct college decision becomes even more important.
ACA offers a better path forward and has created the 10 Fit Points, designed to assist student-athletes find their best fit schools.
The first 7 Fit Points above (in blue) are non-athletic factors while the final 3 (in red) are athletic factors. ACA recommends that you consider the blue non-athletic factors first before the red athletic factors when evaluating colleges. This is not to say that athletic factors are unimportant, rather that they should usually be considered after a college is deemed a good fit on non-athletic grounds. This will ensure that a student-athlete is happy, academically, socially and athletically – and give the student-athlete the greatest opportunity to thrive, succeed and graduate in 4 years. Note: The Fit Points above are not ordered sequentially in terms of importance, as different student-athletes will place different levels of importance on factors such as distance from home, or cost of the institution for example. The ACA Recruiting Blog will continue to expand upon each of these Fit Points, but the list above should give you a general guideline on what factors to consider when creating your college list.
ACA’s 10 Fit Points and Coach Communication
As we have previously spoken about in ‘How to Email College Coaches‘ and ‘Email Samples and Templates‘, college coaches receive thousands of emails from interested student-athletes. One of the best ways for a student-athlete to engage in a successful conversation with a college coach is to write a highly personalized email that tells the coach about his or her program. The best way to achieve this is to do so after narrowing down schools based on the 10 Fit Points above. Once you have a list of schools that best meets these criteria you can incorporate these Fit Points into your email to the coach, telling them why you like the location, major, or style of play for instance. This will show the coach that you have done your research and will greatly increase your chances of a response and a successful conversation with the college coach.
To find out more about how you should engage the recruiting process and to learn more about ACA’s Individual plans – schedule a free 20 minute consultation.
ACA’s 10 Fit Points and the ACA Platform
The ACA Platform helps you to find schools that are a good fit, using the 10 Fit Points mentioned above. ACA incorporated their 30 years of experience with colleges and college coaches in creating the best college evaluation tool on the market. The comprehensive search and filter tool allows you to find schools based on the academic, social and athletic factors mentioned above. You can then favorite these schools and begin the process of communicating with their coaches. Learn more about the ACA Platform here.
ACA is the only company assisting student-athletes in their journey to college that was created by current and former college coaches. ACA understands how the process works and provides both the technology and guidance for a clear college pathway.