4 Ways to Choose the Best College for You

2016 Big East Swimming and Diving Championship on Feb. 26, 2016 at Nassau County Aquatic Center in East Meadow, New York.

By Jake Renie, Swimming World College Intern

I would like to say this up front so then you won’t X-out of my tab halfway through…I do not believe that any one division is better than another. I chose Division II because it was the best fit for me, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best division for you!

As a prospective student-athlete coming from a long line of swimmers at Purdue University, there were many times where I felt pressured to become a DI athlete. Throughout my recruiting process, I constantly applied to Division I schools, aching my chance to be invited somewhere. After much debate and contemplation (and no call-backs from any DI schools), I turned to Divisions II, III, and even the NAIA and JOCO. Ultimately I decided to attend the University of Indianapolis, a Division II school.

I came to the conclusion that there were four major factors on why I gave up my DI aspirations…

1. Help! The student loans are after me!

michael-disalle-ohio-state-ncaa-2015 (4)

Photo Courtesy: Andy Ringgold

Let me guess; your parents are either going to pay all of your student loans, or they will help you pay some of it? Money is and should be a big factor, because you don’t want put yourself (and I guess your parents can be here) paying off your student debts for what seems like forever! You’re more likely to receive a scholarship moving down from a DI school (aside from Division III, who cannot give athletic scholarships).

2. What’s studying?

Sleeping-while-studying

Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia

Although you will be swimming in college, that’s not why you’re there. When browsing through schools, be aware of the academic situation at the school. If your desired major isn’t at the school, it’s best not to place it too high on the totem pole. Since around probably 99 percent of college swimmers will not go to the Olympics, it’s best to have a backup plan in getting your degree.

3. Who is on this team?

nicole-johnson-kicking-with-teammates

Photo Courtesy: Michael-David Morales

Your swim team in college might consist of all of your closest friends, so you should probably pick a team that you like. Go on recruiting visit, and see which teams have good chemistry, have a smart time in college, and don’t act like they hate each other. As cruel as it is to say, you could possibly lose your appreciation for the sport. You’re around your team almost 24/7– if they have a negative impact on you, you’ll more than likely have a negative mindset in the sport.

4. Where is Home?

KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 31, 2014: Peter John Stevens during the Tennessee Home Swim Meet on October 31, at the Allan-Jones Aquatics Center in Knoxville, TN. Photo By Amanda Pruitt/Tennessee Athletics

Photo Courtesy: Amanda Pruitt/Tennessee Athletics

This is probably the most important piece of advice that I can give to a prospective athlete– choose a school that YOU think best fits you. It’s hard to explain how it feels to know, but when I set foot on campus during my recruiting visit to the University of Indianapolis, it just felt like home to me. Since you’re the one constantly emailing the coach, hanging out with the team, and possibly sitting in a classroom inside your major, you need to be the one to choose your school (although the phrase “Mom knows best” is usually right).

Your first year of college is all about adjusting, so it’s important that you pick a school that makes the adjustments feel easy. Finishing up my freshman year as we speak, I feel as if I’m a whole new and improved person, and that my school will get me to where I want to be when I finish, both in and out of the water.

4 comments

  1. Carylyn Waite

    I would also add if you got injured or if something bad happens to you like a medical condition and you could no long swim (if you’re on an scholarship) would you still be able to afford to attend that college?