Top 6 Factors to Make your College Decision
Choosing the college you will spend the next 4 years of your life is supposed to be a big decision, it's not easy, that’s why we have listed 6 points of comparison you should take into account when making your decision.
Well, you did it! you worked very hard, overcame all the challenges and difficulties of being a high-level athlete while being a High-Schoo Student. You finally received great offers and everything seems to fall in place, you are just one step away from your future Alma Mater and all you need to do is to make a decision. But suddenly, this final step becomes a huge leap full of uncertainty, you do not know how to choose? Which one is the best fit for you? You start to ask too many questions to yourself and feel a little bit lost, have you heard about paralysis by analysis?
It’s ok, relax, it happens to almost everyone! Choosing the college you will spend the next 4 years of your life is supposed to be a big decision, it’s not easy, that’s why we have listed 6 points of comparison you should take into account when making your decision.
- Academics – This is a top priority for many and probably the biggest concern for your family. There is a reason you are called a student-athlete, in that order. Therefore is very important to define your academic abilities and capabilities, you need to think which school will add and develop my skills to the fullest.Sometimes the best-ranked school is not the right fit for you, for example, one university might not offer the specific major you want, maybe the level of commitment or academic demand is too high for you or not stimulating enough, you need to be completely honest and ask yourself if you can see you being successful in this college.
- Athletics – Another main concern is the athletic level, how good is the team you are going to compete for and proudly represent?. Do not think only about their results or championships, being part of a team goes beyond the numbers, statistics, and rankings. When evaluating the athletic level try to evaluate all aspects such as:
- How do I feel about the coach? Trust me, your coach will play one of the most important roles in your college life, if you do not get along with him this might be a huge problem in the future. On the other hand, you never know if the coach has the intention to leave for another college or even retire, do some research.
- Do I have room to improve and how realistic is it? You do not want to practice every single day and not be able to play the games or compete. One of the many joys (probably the biggest) about being a student-athlete is to represent your school. You need to be in a place where you feel appreciated and know that you contribute to a successful team.
- Am I going to get along with the team? As a former student-athlete, I can guarantee you that having a good relationship with your teammates is a crucial factor when you are competing. You will spend at least 20 hours a week with them, face long rides inside a bus, you might even live with a few of them. Imagine you being forced to share all these moments with people you do not like. It is very important you are in contact with a few teammates ahead of time to have a feeling about it.
- Rankings – Of course, you should look at the rankings but do not make decisions based on rankings only. Rankings are a good starting point as long as you take a good look at the big picture. Think about yourself, you know that you are much more than your ranking or your times or field statistics, as a recruit, you don’t want to be labeled based on numbers, you want to show the coaches you are more than facts or ratings, well, this applies to universities as well.
- College Niche Ranking is a very common and popular review site used by parents, students, and even professors. This site provides real reviews from alumni with facts about the college giving them an overall grade and specific grades for each topic, including, academics, athletics, dorms, campus food, safety, etc.
- College Factual is another great resource of comparison, different from other rankings, it provides a ranking of each university based on major.“The goal of our Best Colleges Ranking is to identify those schools that are offering exceptional quality education to students.” – College Factual
- Forbes Ranking is one of the most popular ranks worldwide. Every year Forbes Magazine releases a new ranking of the top 600 US Universities, it is undeniable the reputation this ranking carries.
- Others, you can check out other ranking sites such as US News, Princeton Review, and College Consensus.
- Alumni – You want to know how good a school really is? Check out what’s going on in the lives of those who graduated from there. See what’s happening after a year, 5 years, 10 years. In the end, that’s what it’s all about, your successful future.Graduate students are a great source of information and it should influence your decision process deeply. Research and reach out to alumni, even better if it is a former student-athlete. Ask them questions about their experience, why would they recommend their alma mater, the flaws, and downsides (nothing is perfect).
Another great idea is to use PayScale, a system developed to gather how much graduate students earn after a short and long period of time. They use wage salary, type of degree, employees’ level, the potential of growth, and many other factors.
This is a tremendous insight, you need to understand how valuable is your degree and rate of return you expect from this investment, of course, these are general statistics, your success will depend mostly on you but Payscale is definitely a resource worth giving a try when comparing your potential schools.
- College Visits – If you have the opportunity to visit the campuses, then please do it! Don’t overthink it. This could definitely make a huge difference in your decision process. Most of our students agree that visiting the campus, meeting the team, watching the practices, and seeing the athletic infrastructure made the total difference when making the decision.College visits give the opportunity to picture yourself attending the university, you will see the pros and cons and also have a hunch about it. Pro tip: take notes while visiting the campus, write down all the important things and details you like, or dislike, these notes will be super useful when gathering information for your comparison list.
- Financials – For many families, this factor is THE decision-maker, let’s be honest, if the family can’t afford it, well it’s not going to happen. But if you are choosing between affordable offers, don’t decide exclusively based on the size of the scholarship.You need to have an agreement with your family on how much you can afford if the offer makes the school affordable then compare the rest if you end up with two very similar options, then yes, the cost may be the deciding factor, but sometimes a partial scholarship beats a full ride.
Ask yourself, is this college is the best fit for me? Or I feel like it is based only on the amount of scholarship I’m getting? Once you take all factors into consideration, you will see what investment more attractive in the long run.
Remember to avoid debt, if you are getting a loan then the school is probably out of budget, and look for scholarships and money for college in all the possible places.
If you use these key comparison points, I am sure your decision process will be a little bit easier, more organized, and more importantly, you will feel confident in your selection.
There are many other factors that might be very important for you such as, location, environment, weather, size, religious affiliation, etc. Do your research and add them to your own comparison sheet.
You can create your own comparison list on myUniversity the USP Online Recruiting Dashboard. Prioritize what is important for you and try to see it from the outside, rely on your instincts, personal taste, and family values, after all, it is a big deal, YOU ARE GOING TO COLLEGE!