6 Questions to Ask Before Creating Your College List

Selecting the best college to attend is one of the most exciting decisions of your life, but it's important to have a plan in place.

Committing to a college that aligns with your goals can be a daunting task when you're first getting started, but it doesn't have to be. With a free CaptainU recruiting profile, you get tools to stay organized and build deep relationships with college coaches so you can take charge of the recruiting process. Selecting the best college to attend and play sports is one of the most exciting decisions of your life, but it's important to have a plan in place and not let the process overwhelm you. If you are an athlete with ambitions to play sports in college, try asking yourself these six questions to figure out which colleges fit your needs and add them to your list to get the ball rolling!

Already have a list of colleges that you are interested in attending? Learn more about sorting your college list here.

College Student and Parent

1. What kind of school are you qualified for academically?

It's important to be realistic about your academic qualifications to attend certain schools. If you are a strong student with specific academic goals you want to be sure the colleges you consider will meet your needs. Do your research and be sure to ask college coaches about the academic requirements to attend their school. This will show coaches that not only are you a dedicated athlete, but you are also committed to academics and your future outside of athletics.

2. What level college team are you qualified for as a player?

Just as it's important to be honest with yourself about your academic aspirations, the same applies to your abilities as an athlete. Find out which schools are the best fit for you as an athlete. If you're unsure, start by asking the people you know. High school and club coaches, as well as players who came before you are often great resources to ask questions and see where your ability fits on the college spectrum. If you really want to be proactive and find out for yourself, determine which college camps and showcases fit your plan and are being held at schools you'd like to play for. Then contact the coach to tell him or her about your interest in attending the event. These camps and showcases give you a great opportunity to compete and measure up against other athletes with similar aspirations to making a great college team.

3. What balance of academics, social life, athletics and other extracurricular activities do you want?

This is a critical question to ask yourself when beginning your college search. Different divisions in college athletics require a different level of commitment. How important is it for you to take part in extracurricular activities that the college experience has to offer? Larger divisions like Division I programs will obviously require more commitment from their student-athletes as opposed to smaller schools. Ask yourself how much of your time in college you're willing to commit to varsity sports, and ask coaches that you speak to about the time commitment and a typical day for their student athletes. There is no shame in wanting to enjoy the college experience, so be honest with yourself about how you want your experience to be.

4. What financial arrangements will you need for schools within various tuition brackets?

Can you afford tuition or will you need financial aid?

This is no secret; college is expensive. Are you banking on your athletic performance to help pay for it? Or have you been putting in work in the classroom to make you eligible for academic scholarships and aid? Asking yourself these questions will help you create a college list that aligns with your goals and means. Remember, even if you are not a Division I-level athlete, there are multiple ways to fund your college experience.

5. What geographical region of the country do you prefer?

Do you want to be near your parents so they can come see your games?

It can be tough to move across the country or somewhere very different from where you've called home. Also, it can be one of the greatest moves that a student-athlete can make. College athletics and the college experience can provide a great opportunity to broaden your horizons. How important is that experience for you? There is no wrong answer here. Do some soul searching and see what option would be the best for you and your development as an athlete and person. If you're not sure, start by asking the people you know.

6. What size school is right for you?

Do you prefer the energy of a large campus or the intimacy of a small campus?

Bigger schools provide a bustling atmosphere with thousands of students and often have more options academically. On the flip side, bigger schools often have larger lecture classes with hundreds of students, meaning less one-on-one attention from professors. Athletically, bigger schools often have healthy budgets, and competition for playing time may be fierce. Smaller schools offer a more intimate class setting with fewer students per course and enable a more hands-on experience with professors and classmates. With the smaller schools, you may find fewer options academically and fewer social experiences. The choice is yours to take control and decide what makes the most sense for you.

This is an exciting time to step into the driver's seat to create your future and plan your destiny. You have worked hard in the classroom and as an athlete to put yourself in this situation to create your future. Don't let the pressure of making the "right choice" keep you from taking massive action. Your parents, coaches and other family members might have their vision of what is your best fit, but at the end of the day, it is your job to commit to a great school that aligns with your goals. Don't be intimidated, do your research, stay organized and find the best fit for yourself both academically and athletically.

Ready to start reaching out to college coaches and organizing your list? Create your free recruiting profile here.