What Clouds Decision-Making During the College Recruiting Process?

There are hundreds of decisions that go into choosing a college. You’ll end up making some good ones and probably some not-so-good ones. As a result, you’ll learn every step of the way. If you start early enough, you’ll even get better at making those decisions.

But there are mistakes that could make or break your college experience.

It’s hard to think about recruiting process mistakes when you are in high school excelling at your sport and having a great time. You think college will just fall into place the same way high school did for you, right?

What if you knew that the wrong college choice could be disastrous for you? What if you knew that transferring colleges could set you back academically and even delay graduation?

Happiness is not a given when it comes to your college experience.

However, you can put yourself in the best possible situation to find happiness in college. It equates to finding fit. No matter where you go to college, or if you become a star for your team, or if you are near or far from your hometown, you WILL NOT be happy unless you find fit. That is a fact.

It takes time, effort, commitment, guidance, work, and diligence to find the right college fit for you.

To help you learn more about potential mistakes in your future college decision, and to help you avoid them, we’ve put together some thoughts from college athletes and coaches.

Sad female athlete sitting with hands on head and looking down

College Athlete Mistakes and Regrets

Below are some of the decisions that later became mistakes or regrets for some athletes in choosing a college. These examples are based on Find My Team conversations with college athletes.

My Biggest Mistake Was Choosing a College: 

  • Solely based on my sport
  • Because the college coach really liked me
  • Because of the uniform color
  • Because they were winning at the time
  • Because my boyfriend or girlfriend was going
  • Because I got my own dorm room or apartment
  • Because my parents went there
  • Because my high school or club coach said to go there
  • Because it was close to home
  • Because they offered me the most money
  • Because it was the highest level of play I could get

My Biggest Regret Was:

  • I didn’t take enough college visits.
  • I didn’t look at a college because it was too far away at the time.
  • I didn’t look at all of my options.
  • I just played because I was good at it, not because I loved it.
  • I didn’t start early enough.
  • I let others tell me what to do and where to go.
  • I didn’t really get to know the coach before I got there.
  • I didn’t ask enough questions.
  • I didn’t really understand the workload in college.
  • I didn’t pay attention to the academics at the college.

The reason some decisions turn into mistakes is that once the athletes get to campus, they begin to realize that it’s not a good fit. They had a different vision for what the experience was supposed to be like.

You may think that one size fits all when it comes to being a student-athlete in college, but that is far from the truth. Every situation is different. Every college would give you a different experience academically, athletically and culturally.

Which one is best for you?

Your goal is to find the college experience that most appeals to your needs, wants and values. There are plenty of choices, no matter what level of play you choose. You just need to search and research as much as you can to find that place for you.

Coach giving a high-five to a player in women's basketball

College Coaches

It’s not just the high school athletes that make mistakes or who have regrets with decisions made during the recruiting process. It happens to college coaches, too.

Below are some results we found, based on conversations with college coaches.

Mistakes We Made in Choosing High School Student-Athletes for Our Program Were: 

  • Believing the parents when they said their daughter worked hard
  • Not seeing the athlete play enough
  • Not getting to know the player well enough
  • Choosing the athlete just because she had the talent
  • Choosing her because she was the best in-state player
  • Choosing her because her parent played at the college

Some of the Issues We Faced in the Recruiting Process: 

  • The family was not entirely truthful about an athlete’s mental state.
  • The athlete was not honest about a prior injury before she arrived on campus.
  • We always had to speak to someone other than the student-athlete when trying to communicate and get to know her better.
  • The student-athlete would not speak on the phone, so we couldn’t really get to know her.
  • The student-athlete didn’t know what she wanted.
  • The parents answered for the student-athlete during campus visits.

These lists are short, but they give you an idea of what goes into the process for both student-athletes and college coaches. It is not easy for either side to find the right fit, but, if you work hard to find the answers you need, the decision-making improves.

Your future should be very important to you. It’s hard to think about it as a high school student-athlete, but it is critical to be serious about your recruiting process if you want to find happiness in college and be set with your career after college.

You CAN find the right college choice for you. You deserve it. You put in the work to become a good student. You put in the work to become a good athlete. You just need to put in the work to find your future home, the one that will provide you a great place to play sports and the most promise of a career after you graduate college.

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