You’re Going to Spend the “Best” Four Years of Your Life There; Make Sure It’s the Right Fit
Choosing a college is a pivotal moment in your life. Deciding what you want to pursue and where you want to pursue it is a lot to digest, especially for kids in their mid-teens. Heck, I’m in my twenties and three-quarters of the way through school and I still don’t know exactly what I want to do! A decision this monumental is already a daunting task, and when you throw golf in on top of that it becomes much tougher. When I was going through the college decision process, I didn’t really focus much on anything other than golf to begin with. My dream was to play college golf and I didn’t really care where I would live out that dream; I just wanted to achieve it. After a while, I realized that this was not the correct way to go about choosing a school, so I reassessed the way I approached the recruiting process. I started to take into consideration some more characteristics about the schools I was looking at. Remember, you are going to school to get an education and then play golf, not the other way around. I was fortunate enough to land at a school that I love and have enjoyed over the past three years. You should look at a school from all angles before you make a commitment to make sure that you get the most out of your college golf experience. Here are a few characteristics that I feel are sometimes overlooked by prospective student-athletes when looking at a school.
This one may be pretty obvious, but hear me out. You may have some sort of idea about what you want to study while in school. If you do, great! You should attempt to find schools that have a solid program in the field you want to enter. Once you do that, you should contact the golf coaches with your information. If you don’t know what you want to study or do while in school, that is perfectly okay. The fact is that many students change their major at least once while in college. I fall into this category as I changed mine three times. If you’re still unsure of the route you want to take, then you should look for schools that offer a lot of programs and have a wide array of majors to choose from. This will open up a lot of roads for you once you get to school. The important thing is that you do not force yourself into a school just because the coach wants you to play golf. Say there is a college known for its great music and arts programs. The golf coach has been recruiting you heavily and wants you on the team. The only problem is that you can’t tell the difference between a trumpet and a tuba and have no interest in the programs offered. This is a situation in which you should not pigeonhole yourself at a school that doesn’t fit your interests just because of golf. I have seen this happen to a few golfers who end up transferring after a year or two because they couldn’t find a program to fit their passion. As the cliche goes, you’re a STUDENT-Athlete. You should worry about what you’re going to study before worrying about where you’ll be playing golf.
All schools have different standards and traditions that they follow. Some schools are public, some are private, and they each have their own way of doing things around the campus. I heavily suggest doing your homework on the schools that you’re most interested in to see out what kind of standards they go by. For example, some schools have different rules when it comes to having a car on campus. Rules for living situations and meal plans will also differ by school. A lot of private schools have some sort of religious affiliation, and their rules may also differ. You just need to make sure that whichever school you’re looking at fits in with your ideals and standards. If you end up at a school that has rules or regulations that you don’t agree with, then you’ll be in for a long four years.
“I heavily suggest doing your homework on the schools that you’re most interested in…”
SIZE OF THE SCHOOL/CLASSES
This is one that I originally really didn’t care about when I was being recruited. At first, it didn’t matter to me whether I went to a school with 30,000 students or 3,000. However once I got to school I realized that I actually prefer the small school atmosphere. My school has roughly 5,000 students, which at first I was weary over. In my opinion, the small school experience makes the student-athlete lifestyle feel much more important. I never feel like I’m just a number in the crowd, and the small class sizes really offer a much more in-depth learning experience. It also helps me get closer with my professors, which makes it easier for me to make up work when I’m travelling for golf. I ended up realizing that the small school experience was the right fit for me, but that doesn’t mean it will be for you. You should attempt to have an idea for what size school you want to go to while recruiting. It isn’t the be-all and end-all of the college golf experience, but it can definitely make a difference.
This is one that is hard to realize while still in high school but can make all the difference in the world. All campuses have separate cultures, and the way they do things varies. For example, my school has a great support for the athletic programs. A lot of the students I run into are athletes, and the professors and community are really plugged in to how the teams are doing and offer a lot of support. I love walking into class after a tournament and having my professor ask about how it went. It makes me feel as though I’m a part of something bigger and that I’m a part of one big family. If you’re seriously interested in a school, then it’s important that you get a feel for the campus’ culture and vibe while on your visit. Do some research on the background of the school and try to talk to some current students if you get the opportunity. Being a part of a good campus culture is critical to having an enjoyable college golf experience.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK QUESTIONS!
You should never be afraid to ask questions while on a visit or through email. Even if you’re a bit of the shy type, you should still do your best to pipe up if you’re looking for an answer. Asking questions will help you clear up any indecision that you have, and it will also make a good impression on coaches. When you go on a visit, you will repeatedly be asked if you “have any questions” or would “like to know anything else”. Responding with “No” right away can make it seem as thought you’re disinterested in the school and would rather not be there. Ask questions and be proactive throughout your recruiting process. It will pay off in the end.
I hope that you’re able to take something away from this post while you are looking at potential schools. I have personally seen players I know complain about their schools not being a good fit for them. Most of these players jumped into their college choice after being blinded by the opportunity to play golf in college. Because of this they are not getting the full college golf experience that they deserve. Just know that you will be able to find a school in which you can play college golf, get a good education, and have a good experience. Don’t sacrifice one of those three aspects with a rash decision. Take your time, do some research, and feel out the potential schools you’re looking at. If you do this, you’re bound to find the perfect fit!