We talk about what to look for in a school in terms of athletics quite often, but athletes sometimes overlook the academic aspect of the recruiting process, even though academics and athletics are equally important. Here are some things to look at when researching the academic side of college opportunities.
Academics play a larger role in admissions than you may think; contrary to popular belief, coaches can’t just get you into a school if you are a good enough athlete. The first, and most important, thing for a you to look at is the requirements for admission at the schools that interest you. Starting to research requirements early in high school gives you more options because you will know what grades you must obtain to have a chance at a that school. Researching admissions requirements later in high school, when there is less time to improve grades, will only help you know what options you still have, and it will leave you little room for improvement.
If you plan on majoring in something specific, check out what schools offer your major before even contacting a coach. Not all schools have the same majors, and if you are set on picking one major in particular, then don’t waste a coach’s time by contacting him if you don’t plan on choosing a different major.
Do you work better in a smaller, more personalized learning environment, or are you better off in a large lecture with a couple hundred other students? Before you think about attending a school because if its name, take a closer look at the average number of students in each class, and also the faculty-to-student ratio.
Academic Support Systems
Most colleges offer academic support centers and tutoring options, and many of them have services geared specifically towards college athletes. Academic support services could end up being quite important for you due to the demanding schedule of a college athlete.
Start by asking the coaches you are talking to about the services offered by their school. The admissions department should have information about support services also. Finally, you can search for academic support webpages on each school’s website, or by googling the school name and academic support. Most schools have a specific web page dedicated for their academic support system.
Both the four and five year graduation rates are important numbers to look at when researching potential schools. They will help you learn about your prospects of graduating on time. If you don’t graduate on time, your athletic scholarship may not cover enough of your tuition cost, and you may have to dig deeper into your pockets to get your college diploma. Graduation rates will also show you how commited a school is to graduating its students, and how many students transfer out of a college (because transfers are counted as non-graduated students). Know the graduation rate for your potential sports team as well, not just the overall number for the university.
Tuition (Depending on Sport)
Only several sports are considered head-count sports– meaning only full scholarships are awarded. For every other sport, unless you are a top recruit, you will likely not be offered a full scholarship, meaning you are responsible to pay for the rest of your education. You may be able to supplement your scholarship with other financial aid, but as you are beginning to look at colleges, be aware of the overall costs so you can start planning out a budget; also research what size scholarships athletes received that have similar talent as you. This will allow you to target your school search better and eliminate opportunities that are too expensive.