Figuring out which college is the perfect fit for your needs and athletic ability can be a daunting task. When researching potential schools there are several key factors you should be considering to make sure the schools you are looking at are the right fit. We have broken down some of the most important factors that you should be looking into during your college search.
Academics – The academic reputation of a college is often a big factor in the decisions of students. Consider the reputation of the school in regards to your academic interests. Investigate the academic rankings of schools you are considering to find out which academic programs fit your needs. Make sure to research potential majors and how they fit in with the potential industries you want to work in down the road. If you are unsure of which field you want to work in, speaking with an academic advisor can help you hone in on some possible majors you should consider. As a student-athlete you will want to make sure the academic rigor of a school matches with your academic capabilities as well.
Athletics – As a student-athlete the reputation of a school’s athletic program surely will be on your mind when considering schools. When considering Division I or Division II schools take into account your athletic and academic achievements to gauge whether you are considering realistic options. If you excel academically and are willing to commit to the rigorous lifestyle of an NCAA athlete this may be a good choice. On the other hand, if you are looking for a more relaxed and balanced college experience, don’t be afraid to consider other athletic programs from smaller Division III and NAIA schools. Educate yourself about the athletic programs of schools you are researching including their schedules, team records in previous years, and their current position needs for the upcoming year to see where you might fit in.
Campus Life – When it comes to deciding on the right college, campus life can play a role in the decision making process. First and foremost academic success should be your end goal but having a campus life that fits still matters. Take some time to research clubs and organizations you may be interested in joining at potential colleges. Taking an unofficial visit is the best way to gauge how you feel about a school’s environment. Often asking tour guides questions about the general campus atmosphere during the school year can give you a good idea of what life is like at that college.
School Size – The size of a campus and the number of students at a school can be important factors for students considering a college. Whether you prefer a large campus or a secluded campus, you should figure out what the right fit is by taking a few visits to campuses that interest you.
Class Size – For some students, class size can be an important factor when deciding on a college. State and other public colleges, especially more prestigious colleges, tend to have a high student to faculty ration. This means you will typically be in a class sometimes with a hundred or more students. Some students enjoy the smaller setting and greater personal interactions of a smaller school. Schools with smaller class sizes tend to be private schools or smaller colleges in general.
Location – One of the most important factors when considering schools is location. You will likely be living in your school’s city for a few years so finding a good fit is important. When you are considering colleges try to figure out whether you want to stay locally at a state or community college or if you want to consider out-of state schools. It is important to think about what environment you are comfortable whether it be a small town, urban setting, rural setting, or a metropolitan area. Also don’t forget take weather into account when you considering potential schools.
Cost – The costs of colleges can vary widely within public and private schools. When researching colleges make sure to take into account tuition, housing costs, food costs, textbook costs, and other expenses into your overall budget. You should also evaluate your costs and preferences for living in on-campus housing versus living off campus. You want to make sure you minimize your costs by attending a school you can afford and it is beneficial to consider schools that are offering you financial aid through grants, scholarships, or loans. Make sure you are comparing the different kinds of academic and athletic scholarships colleges can offer you as these are often the most effective ways to lower the costs of attending college.
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