Michael Husted played professional football for nine years as a placekicker in the NFL. He is also the co-creator of ActiveRecruiting.com, an innovative online video recruiting tool that connects student athletes with coaches through the use of interactive video profiles.
Choosing the right college to attend is something that will take some time. You will want to find a school that fits you both academically and athletically.
The first step is to make a list of 12-15 schools that you, initially, would like to attend.
I would categorize them in this way:
- Dream schools
- Realistic schools
- Fall back schools
Of course, there could be some overlap between the dream and realistic schools. Having simple categories will help to organize your choices as you start this process.
Your dream schools could be a big time college athletic program, like UCLA, Notre Dame, Texas or Florida. Maybe you have grown up watching that program, members of your family have attended that school or you simply like their mascot and colors. There are many colleges that offer both big time athletics as well as incredible academics, Virginia, Cal Berkeley, Boston College, etc. Therefore, attending one of these programs would appear to be an ideal choice.
However, you need to be "realistic" with your athletic abilities and decide if you would get significant playing time by attending one of these programs. If so, great. If not, then you will need to decide if just being on the roster is good enough for you. Otherwise, finding a program, athletically, that will allow you to get a lot of playing time might be a "realistic" school.
Being a "Big fish in a small pond," is something that will provide for a great college experience. There are dozens of incredible academic institutions that play at smaller divisions--Amherst, William and Mary and all of the Ivy league schools--to name a few.
Finally, have your "fall back" schools. These are schools that you would still enjoy attending, but they are not necessarily the first ones that pop up in your head. They still combine the academics and athletics and offer the expected experience.
Do your initial research on these schools, their location (Do you want to stay close to home or leave the state?), student size, academic offering, players at your postition (How many? When are they graduating?),etc. Your list and rankings may move around after your research. Some schools may drop out and some new ones may be added.
You have to work just as hard off the field, to find the right school, as you do on the field.* *
One of the most important questions that you should ask yourself when trying to select the right college is "if something were to happen that prevented me from playing my sport in college, would I still want to be at that school?"
Leveraging your sport to go to college is a great way to be a starter, get an education and have an incredible experience that will set the foundation for the rest of your life.