Match your academic abilities and goals to the school's philosophy and programming. For instance, potential architects should seek colleges that provide an architectural program or the opportunity to explore this discipline. Many schools offer a liberal arts education; thus, those pursuing specialized degrees (like engineering) must find schools that cater to such interests. Colleges also provide statistical profiles of current students and admissions criteria compare your GPA and SAT scores to assess compatibility.
Class sizes can range anywhere from a couple of hundred to several thousand students. Often, smaller colleges offer a more intimate classroom setting and a better teacher-to-student ratio. Classes at larger universities are frequently taught in a lecture style. A school's location is as defining as its size. You must choose either an urban, suburban, or rural setting. Also, decide where you are most comfortable geographically. Do you want to stay close to home or are you comfortable moving away? What type of climate do you prefer?
Tuition ranges from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars. Explore academic as well as outside, privately-sponsored scholarships. Furthermore, research the possibility of student employment, as many colleges offer work-study positions.
Most collegiate athletic programs are markedly different. For example, a swimming program consists not only of swimming but also of weight and dry land training. Some teams work exclusively with weights, yet others use various tools such as medicine balls, power racks, and stretch cords. Also, pay careful attention to a school's facilities and be sure they are compatible with your athletic goals.
There are collegiate athletic programs of varied ability. By comparing your performance with athletes at each school, develop a list of colleges with programs that suit your skill level. Many athletes are content to compete on the Division III level; others desire Division I competition. Whatever your ability may be, there is certainly a matching program.
One the most important factors in the recruiting process is finding the right coach. A coach is more than someone who gives you an athletic scholarship; he or she serves as a mentor and as a motivator. No matter how skilled you may be, a good coach should be able to teach you new skills while perfecting your existing ones. The process of finding the right coach involves asking the right questions and evaluating the most critical aspects of your prospective coach’s philosophy, communication style, and personality.
The following is a list of some questions that will help you decide whether a coach is a good fit for you. While you listen to his or her answers, try to determine how comfortable you are with them and their personality. If you choose this school, you will most likely have a close relationship with this person for four years – so choose wisely.
What is a typical day in the life of one of your players?
How can you and your school help me balance my academics with my athletics?
What is your graduation rate?
What are the characteristics of a good program in your mind?
What characteristics to you value in your players?
How would you describe your personality both during games and during practice?
Where do you see me fitting in with the team?
How is playing time determined?
Have you ever had any NCAA rules infractions?
Undoubtedly, choosing the right coach also requires a great deal of soul searching for you, the athlete. In order for you to evaluate the answers to these questions, you need to have a good understanding of your own personality and what motivates you. Do you respond better to discipline and structure, or do you respond better to someone who is more sensitive and nurturing? If you have an open personality, will you feel comfortable sharing your feelings with the coach? Can you handle being criticized in front of your teammates? Once you determine your compatibility with a prospective coach, you will have a better understanding of whether a particular program might be a good match.
Choosing the right coach is just one of many important factors in choosing your school. Don’t let the coach be the sole determining factor in your school choice. You are going to college to get an education. You need to ensure that you are going to a school that meets your academic, social, and athletics needs. Consider the coach as being just one piece of the puzzle.
John T. Rootes
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