Finding a “GOOD FIT”

With more than 1600 colleges offering athletic opportunities at the next level where do you start?

Every student athlete has different strengths and weaknesses but also every student athlete has preferences of what the next four years will look like both from an athletic an academic standpoint.

For many families the recruiting process is a very daunting situation. If it’s your first time or your fourth time you’re starting step is to narrow down the selection to what we call “potential options” for finding a “GOOD FIT”.

There are many items that go into designing a potential student athletes “GOOD FIT” here are the five that start with.

1) Academic Standards – Finding a good academic fit is a key to getting started.  Formally we would recommend looking at the average entrance GPA and test scores to help narrow down what range of academic schools should be on your list. With the removal of test scores or “test optional entrance“ this process for families has become a little bit more difficult.  But starting with a realistic academic standard is a key.


2) Athletic ability and experience: It is important to have a couple of schools that are “reach”, the majority of your search needs to be within your athletic ability.

Some players the School Name is more important to them then the playing time.

Other students would prefer their four-year experience to be at a more competitive lower-level school that will give them the opportunity to start and consistently play all four years versus being a role player at a D1 school, meaning, they would see occasional opportunities, but spend more time on the bench, especially in their first two seasons.

Honestly, identifying student athletes’ athletic ability will assist in the recruiting process. Talk with your travel/club coach, high school coach, private instructor and typically I recommend asking two questions.
What do you think the most competitive highest-level team I might have an opportunity to make roster?

Where could I go and potentially start as a freshman?

These two questions will allow your coaches to assist in giving you honest feedback of the different range in which your strength supply.


3) Location: where do you want to live for the next four years? In a city, on a campus, in a rural environment?

How far from home are you willing to go? Is 3000 miles too far? Do you want to be able to drive home on the weekends?

Have you ever seen snow? Could you live in it?

These are the common questions we recommend student athletes to consider many times throughout the recruiting process. What we find is what they’re not interested is almost more important than what they’re interested in.


4) Financials: colleges and universities have become significantly more expensive in the last 20 years. Parents, being honest with your child in regard to what is financially feasible is important.

Many families have an unrealistic concept thinking your child will see full ride scholarships. Full ride, scholarships only exist for the truly elite athletes (top 1%) , most scholarships are called stacked. Meaning, it is multiple collections of money from athletic, academic, financial need base, and family contribution and/ or student loans.

Division three and the Ivy league do not offer any athletic scholarship money. Most schools’ websites have a financial aid calculator to assist and provide families with a more accurate base for federal school or state need base money available.

As your child looks in the schools keeping track of the financial responsibility for those programs is important. As I have seen many student athletes over the years, have to turn down athletic opportunities due to families unrealistic expectations of the financial requirements for elite high academic universities.


5) Feel: Few students have a successful university experience when excepting a school that they have never stepped foot on. I do not recommend or encourage this.

In my 20 years’ experience, I truly believe that a student athlete needs to visit the campus for more than just 1 hour or a football game.  Game Day campus life is very different than academic days.  While some campuses have similar qualities, location, size of school, division, they may have very different, “feels” in terms of student atmosphere. This is an important part of the campus life experience and is the only good way to experience the life and environment they will be entering into

By beginning your recruiting process, with an honest evaluation of what you’re looking for, you can narrow down to a significantly smaller list to get you started.  Do not be surprised if your final selected university was not on your original starting list. This is because there is no way you could evaluate 1600+ schools.  This is also why knowing what you don’t want also leaves you more open for potential opportunities that fit inside your criteria. If your search criteria is too broad or too narrow, the process can feel overwhelming I recommend student athletes, begin with a selection of 20 schools, a couple reach, a couple safeties and majority in the mid-range.

Finding a “GOOD FIT” school is the first step to having a great 4 year experience