The end of your high school career is fast approaching and it’s time to start deciding on which college can satisfy those academic and athletic needs. Keeping in mind your financial needs, but we will touch on this later in the blog. Being nervous and having doubts is completely normal and understandable, as it is a big decision that impacts your future.
When choosing a college, it’s important to make sure you meet the admission requirements. Spend time and research each school’s admission requirements. This information will help you know if the college is a good fit for you academically. You want to ensure you are pursuing colleges and universities that are a good match for your academic needs so you can succeed as a student in the classroom. Remember your academics out weights your athletic needs.
Each college has its own GPA requirements, and with a little research you will be able to find the average high school GPA of incoming freshmen (First year). If your GPA meets or exceeds the requirements or the average GPA, then you are a good candidate academically. SAT scores work in a similar way, but are more objective, since everyone takes the same test.
When choosing a college, remember that you are looking for a great fit. You want to choose a university that fits who you are and what you most value. The following tips will help you prioritize your interests and goals so you can attend a college or university that best meets your needs.
The three biggest factors to consider:
- Academic Expectations– Based on your academic background what type of colleges and universities are viable for you and also what major (degree program) would you like to graduate in?
- Athletic Expectations– Based on your athletic ability and potential, which level of college sport programs will provide you with the right platform to succeed and also which coaches will be interested in having you on their team? How much would they invest in sports scholarships? Would they guarantee a roster spot?
- 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.
How to Choose the Right College:
- What Should My Major Be?
- Visit Campus (If possible) or Take a College Virtual Tour
- Know the College Requirements and Academic Level
- Don’t Rule Out a College on Tuition Costs Alone
- Discover What Financial Aid is Available to You
- Location of the college or university
- Size of college
- The coach
We will briefly touch a few key points from above in more detail so that you can have a clearer understanding which will help guide you in deciding on the right college.
What Should My Major Be?
When choosing a major, think about what career you hope to have, and which college major will prepare you for it. Consider the high school classes or experiences that you have done well in and enjoyed. Spend time learning about careers that relate to these areas. Try to get first-hand information by setting up a job shadow or at least an interview with someone who is in the field that you are researching. This process can take some time, so it is helpful to start thinking about this early, even in your sophomore year of high school.
Once you have chosen a potential college major, or are leaning towards a specific course of study, make sure the schools you are considering offer a college degree in your field. This seems obvious, but in all the excitement of choosing a great college, some students forget to carefully review the academic offerings for your choice of majors or minors.
What if I’m undecided?
Are you undecided when it comes to a major? That’s OK! College is a great time to explore your interests. Many schools will allow you to enter as “undeclared” and will offer an advisor, or other services, to help you pick a major. Research the various options available at different colleges and universities and look for a school that can support you as you pick your classes, explore your interests, and choose a major. Make sure the college you choose has enough interesting programs so you can find a major that truly interests you.
The College Visit (If possible) or College Virtual Tour:
One of the best ways to determine if a school is a good fit for you is to visit the campus. Before your visit, contact the admissions office to set up a campus tour. Your tour guide will be very knowledgeable and will be able to help answer your questions about the university. Pay attention to the feel of the campus. Do you see students doing the things you like to do? Can you sense camaraderie and school pride among the students and professors?
If you are lucky enough to be visiting during a concert, athletic game, or guest speaker, try to get tickets to attend.
How to Pay for College:
Tuition costs vary considerably, but so do the financial aid packages. You won’t know the true, bottom-line cost until you get your financial aid package. Don’t make the mistake of not applying to a school because you think it’s not affordable. It’s often more affordable than you think.
College is also an investment. Not only are you investing in four (or more) years of your life, but you’re also making a financial investment in your long-term future. These four years will help define your path after college.
It is important to realize that financial aid can be a combination of the following;
- Grants – Money that you don’t have to pay back.
- Loans – Money that you do have to pay back.
- Scholarships – Academic or athletic scholarships.
- Financial Aid Acceptance – You do not have to accept each part of your financial aid package. Beware of accepting loans and accumulating too much student loan debt. Talk to the financial aid and scholarship office to learn more about ways to pay for college and how to minimize your student loan debt.