Other than decisions about marriage and/or starting a family, choosing the right college or university is perhaps the most important decision a college-bound young person makes. With that in mind, here are some rules of thumb to guide you in that process.
First and foremost, let’s distinguish between 2 different types of prospective student-athletes: kids who are realistically likely to earn enough money in professional sports to retire comfortably, and kids who are not. So, if you’re in the first group (you’ll know this because you’ll have 5 or more full scholarship offers from powerhouse, legendary programs like Alabama and Notre Dame for football or North Carolina and Kentucky for men’s basketball), we think it’s completely logical and acceptable to choose a sports program first and a school second. However, if you don’t have 5 or more offers from powerhouse programs, then the free market is telling you that you’re not likely on a trajectory to sign a lucrative contract with a professional team. So, if you’re like 99.9% of collegiate student-athletes, and you’re ultimately going to enter a career outside of playing sports professionally, we would like to strongly urge you to choose a school first and a sports program second.
What does this mean? Simply put, if you fall in the second group of kids, you need to choose a school based on a 40-year plan for life after college and after your playing career is finished. So, rather than asking questions about facilities and style of play and player development, you should instead research and inquire about the school’s academic reputation. You should also want to know: What is the school’s job-placement rate? How large is the school’s endowment? In what kinds of careers have previous graduates flourished? Is there an existing, tight-knit group of successful alums eager to help you find a rewarding career after you graduate? How are former student-athletes from the program I’m considering doing? Did they graduate? What is the likely life path of the kids currently on the team? Will they be a positive or a negative influence as a peer group?
Tomorrow, we will write on another good rule of thumb for navigating the recruiting waters successfully and choosing the right school. Thanks very much for your time.