Our team at CSUSA has helped more than 2000 young student-athletes through the recruiting process at colleges and universities in the USA.
One of the most difficult moments in this entire process is for students to commit to a university and ‘take the leap’ in deciding where the next years of education and college sport will be spent.
It is the moment that every prospective student-athlete craves and looks forward to, but when it comes, many become nervous and freeze. This is entirely understandable, it is a big decision for the future and it is natural to have doubts and concerns.
Our experienced team help our students with their process and give advice about decision making. In the jungle of information out there, it is important to get assistance to navigate through the information thrown at every student. All schools try to sell their school and why you should attend!
From the very start of the process, it is important to try and figure out what you want. What are the key criteria that matter to the student and the athlete?
What is realistic?
There are THREE items that are (in 99% of the cases) the most important to get right.
- Academic Expectations – Realistically with the students’ academic background what type of colleges and universities are feasible? What major (degree program) does the student want to follow?
- Sporting Expectations – Based on the athletes’ historical performance and potential, which level college sports programs will be interested in the student and to what degree? (How much would they invest in sports scholarships? Would they guarantee a roster spot?)
*Even in 2018, when College Sports are much better known, setting sporting expectations is challenging, naturally, every athlete believes in their abilities, but some underestimate the very high level of College Sports and where they might fit.
- Financial Expectations – Of course, it needs to be financially possible. In recent years there are fewer full scholarships offered to incoming student-athletes. Coaches are building stronger rosters by spreading their budgets over multiple talented players. It is important to have a good picture of what the student can contribute financially, as that will determine the level of school that is possible.
*Scholarships often reflect the impact the athlete is expected to have on the team, in simple terms to get the big deals, you need to be coming in as one of the top athletes on the team.
These three items are always the place to start. Our team will work to assess students’ academic potential and sporting abilities before they start the process and endeavor to help the student realize what is possible and realistic.
This is not always an easy task, there are many misconceptions about levels of academics and sports at American Universities. We find friends and family members who attended schools 20-30 years ago offering advice that is outdated, as well as peers in the system already. (Just because a student plays on the same soccer team at home, does not necessarily mean they will be equally appealing to coaches. The compatibility with US sports, academic level and financial capabilities all are factors that individually make a difference)
Once those three parameters and realistic expectations are known, it is smart to build a picture of what is important to the student in finding a college for the coming years. These items can vary a lot depending on the individual, some are more important than others. Some examples:
- Location – The US is a very big a diverse country, with different experiences based on the location.
- Climate – You can get extremes in this regard also. Do you want warm weather all year round? Do you like all four seasons?
- Size of the College – This can vary a lot, there are colleges ranging between 700-60,000 students!
- Size of the Town – Do you see yourself in a big city? There are pros and cons to every location.
- What division? – See article on this: LINK
- The Coach – Did you have a good dialogue with the coach? Do you feel you will develop as an athlete under this coach?
- Facilities and Environment at the university – Does the university give you what you need as a student, athlete and a person?
- And many more!
In the end, the student and advisor need to narrow down the list of preferences to what is most important and realistic and target colleges and programs meeting those criteria always considering which factors you have some flexibility on or not.
Taking the Leap
Our advice to students over the last 11 years has always been the same. Remember your preferences and expectations, so that when opportunities/scholarship offers come along you can assess the school and program against those criteria.
And, if you find a school that ticks the boxes and it feels right….don’t hesitate! It might seem daunting but if you have analyzed well you can make a quick and clear decision.
Coaches are always recruiting and there are thousands of students in the US and around the world desperate to be recruited and get scholarships. Don’t miss on a chance by taking too long to decide, be prepared in advance to make decisions.
Find out more about the recruiting process here: OUR PROCESS