The answers might be hard, but they could make your recruiting easier

One of the first steps in starting your recruiting process is to assemble a list of target schools you might be interested in. Part of assembling that list is honestly assessing your own skills, athletic ability, growth potential, and ability to improve as you grow. Odds are, the target list you have as a high school senior may look entirely different than the one you assemble as a freshman. But each time you add or remove schools and programs from your target list, you should ask yourself these three questions to help you decide where you might fit best, and maybe even where you won’t.

• Do I have the grades and test scores to get admitted to this school?

Not all schools are created equal nor are all admissions standards. The minimum grades and entrance exam scores at larger, public universities can be significantly lower than those at smaller, private schools. Needless to say, Ivy League schools and service academies also have fairly stout admissions standards.

A higher GPA and standardized test scores effectively mean a larger field of schools to choose from. But if your grades don’t mesh with the admission standards at a college or university on your list, either commit to raising your scores to make the grade or scratch that school off your list and direct your energies where you can find an athletic and academic fit.

• Do I have the athletic talent and ability to play at this school?

That’s a tough question to answer as a 9th or 10th grader. But by your junior season in high school, you should have a pretty good idea of where you rank in size and ability. If you’re not sure where you stand, ask your coach or coaches their opinion. You may not like the answer you get, but you should never stop believing in yourself.

If you’ve dreamed of playing Division I basketball, but you’ve got DII skills and DIII speed, reconfigure your target list to include schools where you can still make an impact. Whether it’s a lower-end DI school, DII, DIII, NAIA, or even a junior college, focus your college search on where you’ll fit best. Keep working to improve your athletic abilities and strength. Every pro sports league has numerous players who weren’t recruited to big-name schools out of high school. And that means, lacking the size or ability to compete at the highest collegiate levels when you’re junior or senior in high school doesn’t mean you can’t continue to improve and grow while in college.

• Would I attend this school if I wasn’t competing as an athlete?

It’s easy for a high school recruit to get blinded by a college athletic program’s tradition, glitz, bright lights, and trophies. But as you consider schools on your target list, would that be the place where you fit best if you weren’t an athlete?

To answer this question, think about what you want from a college experience and compare that to the schools on your list. Are you looking for a large campus with a big enrollment or a small campus with a community feel? Do you want to live in a college town or do you want to go to school where the university is just part of a larger city? Are you looking for a school with a warm climate or a cold climate? Big classes or smaller, more intimate classes? If you weren’t an athlete at that school, are there social activities and groups that you’d want to participate in?

These are just a few of the questions to ask yourself as a more objective way to judge a school, but you may have even more. Think about what’s important to you beyond athletics and apply that to whether a school makes your target list.

Finally, as you answer the questions above honestly, remember that your answers are the only right answers. What matters to someone else may not matter to you, so don’t let anyone else’s opinions cloud your judgments. You’re different from everyone else. And making a recruiting target list of schools that fit your specific criteria and skills is the best way to find the school that fits you best!

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