Playing college sports is rewarding and thrilling. But what sometimes gets forgotten during the recruiting process is that college is much more than what happens on the field or court.
The school you decide to attend and play for will have an incalculable impact on your personal and professional life. That's why New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz skipped big name schools like Rutgers and Clemson and decided to attend the University of Massachusetts.
"From my first visit, UMass felt like home," Cruz says. "It felt like the place that I should be. And I felt it in my gut."
That's the "it" factor—when something just feels right. And it's important, because school isn't just where you play and go to class. You have to live there 24/7. The right school for you is the one that satisfies your wants and needs both on and off the field.
Cruz's wanted to go away to school, but not too far away from his hometown of Patterson, New Jersey. He says, "UMass was perfect because it was kind of far away, but not that far. New Jersey was around two and a half hours, three hours away, so it was close enough but still far at the same time."
UMass also provided a top-notch education. Cruz knew he had to earn his degree before moving on with his career. "My mother wouldn't have it any other way," he says. "She told me I wasn't leaving that place until I came home with that piece of paper."
On the field, UMass's football team gave Cruz the chance to play the position he felt was right for him. He says, "[UMass] wanted me to play wide receiver. Every other school was looking at me as a defensive back." From his first official visit, he got along well with his teammates and coaches. "Guys just took me in," Cruz says. "I felt like I was already attending the school."
Cruz chose the school that offered him the best chance to succeed on every level— athletically, academically and personally. To find that kind of fit for yourself, pay close attention on your school visits. Observe more than just the athletic facilities. Wander around the campus and its surrounding area, talk to students who aren't athletes, and notice how you feel. Are you relaxed? Comfortable? Confident that this place will provide the education you need? Then congratulations! You've found "it."
2014 STACK Recruiting Guide
- 5 Things to Examine at Any College
- Get Noticed With a College Recruiting Letter
- Your Recruiting Support Network
- Social Media and Recruiting: All Eyes On You
- The Best (and Worst) Part of Choosing a School
- Recruiting Advice: Your Email Address Matters
- Why You Should Play Small-School Sports
- 3 Keys to Scoring More Cash for College
- Financial Aid Options
- The Truth About Being a College Athlete
- How the Military Can Help You Pay for School and Play Sports at the Same Time
- Help Uncle Sam, Help You
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