Before you visit the campus of colleges that are recruiting you, it’s important to have a plan. Human nature leads us to make decisions on emotion rather than logic. Fine-tuning what’s most important to you ahead of time will help you balance the inevitable emotional aspect that comes from being on campus with the logical goals you have for this big decision.
When I was recruited, I found it helpful to make a list of things I was looking for in my college experience. Some related to the environment and feel of the campus – it’s location, size, climate, academic offerings – while others were specific to the opportunity at each – level of play, opportunity to play, coaching staff, depth at your position, etc.
Some schools will immediately stand out from others – but what will you do when two or more schools feel like an equally good fit? Here, you’ll need a memory tool to narrow down your selection. This will also help to match emotion and logic so that you pick a winner!
I found it helpful to lay out my “big rocks” on a grid. On the left side, I listed separately each item most important in making my decision. Above this, I listed the college name I visited. After each visit, I checked off each item that college met from my wish list. If the college did not meet a need, that box was left blank. When my visits were completed, I tallied up the check marks each college received. The college with the most checks will be the one(s) to research and reflect upon to make your decision. You might have some items that you’ll choose to give more weight to on your grid. The grid allowed me to prioritize my selections. You might wish to further your reflections by journaling after each visit, to capture what about each campus “spoke” most to you. This will come in handy later as you weigh your selections against one another.
There’s one important point that should not be ignored as you evaluate each campus. With any luck, you will never have to know the answer. Ask yourself – if I were to get hurt…would I like this college enough to see me through graduation? The check marks on the grid will guide you to help answer this question, but you will need to filter each university against this scenario. It happened to me. Fortunately, I loved my choice with or without my athletic aspirations. Answer these tough questions, and you’ll be well on your way to making the right decision for your future.
One final thing…I believe it is important to have a list of questions to ask coaches, potential teammates, and professors or admissions counselors you meet. Best of luck on your journey! If there are other questions I can help you with in this process, feel free to contact me.