Yesterday I spoke with a NCAA division I coach who shared the story of a recruit who was struggling to make a decision. The recruit wanted the academics of one school, the warm weather of another school and the coaching expertise found at a third school.
Wouldn’t that be nice. Combine the best aspects of three different schools that are recruiting you and combine them into a Neapolitan ice cream type school.
Problem is you can’t do that. And this is where it gets tough. Do you go with the prestigious education, knowing that you probably won’t run as fast? Do you go to the warm weather school, knowing that not only won’t you run fast but you also won’t have the prestigious diploma after four or five years? Do you go to the school where you will run the fastest and have the best chance of becoming an All-American, something you’ve dreamed of, yet get an education that is not prestigious?
To make matters more complicated, for most families these choices are made more complex with differing scholarship offers from the various school, adding a fourth dimension to the decision. But in the case above the athlete is blessed to have full-ride offers from all three schools, so it’s a three dimensional choice.
No doubt the following will be debated in the comments below, but my take is pretty simple.
First, figure out what you can afford. That will likely take one school off your list. This means that parents and athletes have to have a candid conversation about money and the families college savings, a conversation that likely hasn’t happened up to this point.
Second. If the prestigious school is on the east coast and you live on the east coast, then that is a big factor. People on the east cost know that Bates is a good school, not a choice an angler makes when she’s sitting in a boat. But if you live in a city like Denver, people don’t really care where you went to school, unless it’s Stanford or an Ivy.
Third. How bad to you really want to be good? Some fast high school athletes aren’t dying to be faster in college. And that’s okay (though you wouldn’t want to share that on your recruiting visit). But if you’re dying to get faster than you need to use the media guide that each school provides and see if athletes with your high school PRs are running faster at each school. You’ll likely find that only one or two schools are constantly producing faster college runners. While it’s a normal assumption to think the all schools get athletes to run faster at the college level, the reality is that many do not. Many college programs fail to help athletes run faster than they did in high school. So if you want to run faster in college and running is what consumes you, then take the time to use the media guides as a window in this simple question: “Does this school develop talent?” Or said another way, “Do athletes with my high school PRs go on to run faster at this school?”
Please know that I’m not trying to simplify the recruiting process. It’s complicated and it truly is different for every family. But the flip side is the Neapolitan option does not exist and every day you spend wanting that option is a day wasted in the recruiting process.