Deciding where to spend the next four years of your life is not an easy decision to make. As a student-athlete you have additional factors to take into that consideration, which can feel overwhelming when combing through a long list of colleges. We have consolidated the most important points, so you can narrow down the options and make the right decision.
Also see: 40 Questions to Ask on Your Official College Visit
First of all, we're going to assume obtaining a sports scholarship plays a big role in your decision to attend college in the US. In obtaining the optimal scholarship for your needs you need to find a school that aligns with 1. your level and 2. with your future ambitions. So, sit down and really think long and hard whether you want to attend a program where you are ensured playing time but it may not be a top program or if you are happy to sit on the bench occasionally to be a part of a top program. It's good to have a mix of schools on the radar in terms of sports level as well as a couple of safety options lined up.
What do you want to major in? Where do you see yourself in five years? Do you want to go pro or do you want to pursue a career elsewhere? I know it's easy to answer these questions with: Oh I just want to go to college and then I'll figure all of this out - trust me, I've been there. While you don't need to have all the answers, you do need to at least consider these things prior to picking a college. Maybe the best college athletically does not offer the major that you actually intended to study but you're okay with picking another major at the expense of playing your sport at a higher level. Well, this may not be the best choice for you if you're not aspiring to turn pro.
Don't put all your emphasis on this one but it can definitely help narrow down your options and maybe even be what helps you make the final decision. If you're seeking warmer temperatures, look to the south and remove schools in the north to narrow it down and if you're wanting to be in a bigger city, look for that - you get the gist.
Now, this one should be crucial in determining which school you want to attend. You don't want to graduate with an enormous amount of debt if that can be avoided. This is also an important conversation to have with parents, to see how much scholarship you need in order to make it work financially. If you have your eyes set on a specific school and you're unable to receive the athletic scholarship necessary, keep in mind that you could qualify for academic scholarships or local scholarships within your community which could bring you closer to attending the dream school.
Is this your decision?
Most of all, you need to make sure you didn't let anyone else make this decision. Obviously talk to your family, friends and coach about where to spend the next four years, but make sure the final decision is your own. As cliché as it may sound, listen to what your heart is telling you and follow it.