Choosing A College? Know Yourself

Young phenoms like Andrew Wiggins (left) and Jabari Parker don't have to worry about spending four of five years of their lives on a college campus but over 99 percent of student-athletes who receive a scholarship do.

Young phenoms like Andrew Wiggins (left) and Jabari Parker don’t have to worry about spending four of five years of their lives on a college campus but over 99 percent of student-athletes who receive a scholarship do.

Know yourself and what you want before beginning the recruiting process. With recruiting more cut throat and transfer rates higher than ever, young players must realize school size and location are crucial factors in making a sound college choice.

By George Selleck

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Why do student-athletes make mistakes in their choices of college and athletic programs? A list of reasons for college basketball’s high transfer rate include:

*Student-athletes do not invest the necessary time to evaluate and understand their personal needs and concerns.

*Student-athletes often fail to weigh their personal needs in relationship to what a prospective school and its athletic program has to offer.

*Student-athletes tend to overlook the importance of other relevant aspects in determining their choice of school and athletic programs such as a school’s academic program, social environment, location and facilities.

The surest way to steer clear of these obstacles and to avoid paying such costly penalties as regret and disappointment is to take charge of your own recruitment.

Although it is easy and consoling to blame mistakes on factors beyond our control – “They should have explained things better” or “I got back into a corner” – errors in judgment are the direct consequence of failing to to assume full responsibility for the decisions affecting our lives.

What exactly does that responsibility entail? For starters, it requires knowing yourself and what’s important to you.

If we can clearly recognize our own values, objectives, needs and motivation, we are able to make wise and satisfying decisions and get closer to achieving true happiness and content in our decision of where to attend college.

Burning questions 150By responding “yes” or “no” to the statements below, you will be able to discover yourself and define your priorities more clearly:

1. I would like to be famous
2. I’m a private person
3. I want to make a lot of money
4. I operate better in a structured environment
5. I like cities enough to live in one
6. I can’t operate under pressure
7. I like a constant challenge
8. I’m a low-key person
9. I like different cultures, races, and languages
10. I want to live close to my family

By listing all of the “yes” answers to these statement together, you should get a better idea of who you are. There should be some common characteristics that emerge from the list that should give you a better idea of your values and needs.

After coming to grips with who you are, the next step is to concentrate on determining which colleges offer situations that are most compatible to you.

After getting a general idea of “Who you are” through the above series of questions, we now want to use that information to determine “What you want.”

As you may have guessed, college will entail more than attending classes and playing your chosen sport. Your success and happiness will depend on a number of other important factors that merit your consideration. For instance, your selection of a school also should take into account its living arrangements, social opportunities, campus location, and extracurricular activities.

The following questions have been prepared to to help you identify your needs, preferences and desires with respect to these considerations, as well as assist you in discovering which facets of college life are most essential to your well-being.

Size Of School (Yes or No)

1. Is it important to know most of your classmates at least by sight?
2. Would you prefer to be in a situation where you are always seeing and meeting new people?
3. Do you prefer attending classes with a small student to teacher ratio?
4. Do you prefer the privacy and feeling of “getting lost in the crowd” that a larger university might offer?
5. Do you like the intimacy that is often associated with a smaller college?
6. Do you want to be surrounded by thousands of classmates?

Yes answers to questions 1, 3, and 5 suggest a small college.
Yes answers to questions 2, 4, and 6 suggest a large college.

Campus Environment (Yes or No)

1. Do you want to participate in activities out of your sport and academics?
2. Do you want to live in a dormitory?
3. Would you prefer to live off-campus?
4. Would you enjoy a bustling campus with constant activity?
5. Are you interested in fraternity or sorority life?
6. Would you prefer fewer restrictions and regulations?
7. Are you happiest in a quiet, structured environment?

Location (Yes or No)

1. Do you want to stay near you home, within easy traveling distance, making daily and weekend visits feasible?
2. Could you be just as happy at a school with a school allowing only one or two visits home each school year?
3. Do you have a strong preference for a particular region of the country?
4. Is climate or weather an important consideration in your selection of a school?
5. Would you prefer the fast-paced life of a metropolitan campus rather than the easy-going serenity of a small college town?

The preceding questions are just a sample of questions that need to be asked and answered by a player and his or her parents, coach, friends and counselors. Remember, the informed student-athlete will ask these types of questions and more similar to them.

The more in-depth the student-athlete can answer these questions, the more focused he or she will be when deciding on a school. There must be a commitment from both the athlete an parent to take the necessary steps to preparation of an informed college choice.

As a basketball player, the role you choose to play in the recruiting process may or may not significantly affect your opportunities or substantially alter the outcome, but be assured that a decision to take charge of your own recruitment will make a dramatic difference in how you feel about the entire process and how comfortable you will feel when you cut down your list to the one school you’ll ultimately attend.

Editor’s Note: Selleck’s material was first published in Cal-Hi Sports Magazine in January of 1991. George Selleck is an author and accomplished sports educator with over 45 years of experience as a counseling psychologist. The Compton, Calif. native was a 1956 All-American basketball player at Stanford and coached and refereed at the high school and college level for many years. He also has experience conducting seminars teaching college coaches effective recruiting methods.

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