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The season has started, college recruiting visits are being set up, and offers will be coming. You will hear from coaches, parents, and teachers: “You have to find the school that is the right fit for you.”
In this article, Eric Tyler, former collegiate baseball assistant coach, and I will be breaking down what exactly the “right fit” means when selecting the school you want to go to. There are many different factors that go into this decision, and a lot of those factors the student-athlete has control over.
Using our knowledge, as well as revising information from a past Baseball Rebellion article, we will break this article down into three sections:
Most people tell you to make a list of schools you like and do your research based on YOUR list. While you’re young (14 and under) it is more than okay to have a “dream” list and find out basic information about those schools. However, when it comes time to start recruiting process, it is more important whose list you’re on and not who’s on your list. What we mean by this is, while it’s great to have dream schools, researching schools who have no interest in you could take your attention away from researching schools who are actually interested in you. I talked about being realistic and self-evaluating yourself as a player on Baseball Rebellion’s podcast a few weeks ago, and with the understanding of where you’re at as a player comes from the understanding of what schools should realistically be on your list. I have seen so many cases of student-athletes going to a school that was considered a “reach” for their ability level, maybe as a walk-on or on the minimum scholarship possible, and it was not a good fit for them and they had limited playing time throughout their career. Had they gone to a school that was more in line with their ability level, their college playing experience could have been much better.
Because many student-athletes are unrealistic about their chances of playing at a school they shouldn’t be going to, transfers happen every year at nearly every school. According to the NCAA, college baseball has the HIGHEST transfer rate of any college sport, men or women, at 21 percent. That means that more than one-in-five student-athletes will transfer at some point in their college career. This must be taken into account when selecting the right fit for you. Transfering schools can extremely slow down your graduation timeline as many credits do not transfer from school to school.
One other important factor in choosing a school who is interested in you is how many other recruits are being brought in to your graduation class? I am not saying to be afraid of competition, in fact, if you are given the opportunity to be competing for a STARTING position at one of these top schools then go for it! But again, I can’t stress this enough, YOU MUST BE REALISTIC ABOUT YOUR OPPORTUNITIES. Ask yourself if you are ready to be competing for a starting position as a freshman, or do you need time behind an upperclassman on the depth chart to develop. A good way to assess this is to look at the physical attributes of the current upperclassmen on the roster and see how you compare.
Check out the 2018 high school graduating class Division-1 Recruiting Rankings:
You can see the number of High School players that are being brought in to these schools is outrageous and this list doesn’t include Junior College transfers! With only 35 players allowed on a Division-1 roster, you can see why the transfer rate is so high. Do your research and find out how many kids are committed in your class!
While you will be spending an extreme amount of time practicing, lifting, watching film and playing games, understanding more than just the baseball/softball program at a university is extremely important.
Here is a list of some things to remember about finding the right fit for you as a person:
While there is no question that you will be spending more time with baseball/softball than as a student, it is equally, if not more important to understand the academic dynamic of a school that you are interested in. Understand that you are a student first and an athlete second, so finding a university with academic interests you have is very valuable.
The bottom line when selecting a university to attend and play at, it is a decision that is going to impact the rest of your life. Most of the time the decision is for the better but as you can see from the 21% transfer rate, sometimes it is not! It is a decision that should not be taken lightly or without much thought and research. As recruiting keeps going after kids younger and younger, we as people in the baseball and softball community need to make sure that we are doing whatever we can to help the student-athletes along the way. Thank you for reading and post your comments below.