Prioritizing College Choices

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Although college coaches aren't allowed to call you until the end of your junior year, they are allowed to send you letters the minute you enter high school. And, as your high school career rolls on, the amount of mail you receive can increase exponentially, making the college selection process overwhelming, confusing and difficult. To keep things clear, prioritize the list of schools in which you are interested. That way, when a coach does finally dial your digits, you can be straight with him about where his school ranks.

Producing your very own Potential College Top 25 Rankings simply requires a little Google work, according to recruiting mastermind, Jack Renkens. Here are a few research topics included in the workbook section of his CD, Recruiting Realities, followed by Renkens' comments.

Athletic Association/Division

You should want to go to a school where you'll have the opportunity to play. Not every athlete can play Division I, so be realistic about your abilities and make sure the school is on a level you can play.

Athletic Scholarships

Different divisions and different schools decide which sports to offer scholarships for, and how many. So just because a school is D-I or D-II doesn't mean it offers scholarships in your sport.

Distance From Home

Sometimes an athlete will dismiss a school because "it's too far away." But what's the difference between a three-hour drive and a three-hour flight, especially if your education will be subsidized and you'll get a chance to play?

Public or Private

Private schools are more expensive and exclusive than public schools, and they have smaller class sizes. So ask yourself: "Do I want to be in a lecture hall with 300 people at a public institution or in a class of 14 people at a private?"

Religious Affiliation

This is preferential. Some people want a school with a certain religious affiliation—others don't. Religion can change the environment, and you need to decide if that's where you want to be.

Entrance Requirements

In many cases, if you're on the borderline in terms of entrance requirements, being an athlete can help get you over the hump and accepted into the school because of the athletic contributions you can make.

Gut Feeling

Save everyone a lot of time. Let the coach know up front if his school doesn't sound appealing and you have no interest in going there.

Final Thought

After you've made all these considerations, ask yourself one final—and crucial—question: "Would I attend this school even if I weren't playing sports?"

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