Finding The Right “Fit” In A College Home
Sacramento State ended up being my dream school.
Was it because we played at the Division I level? Was it because we played in front of big crowds? Was it because we had great facilities? Was it because we sent multiple players on to the NFL?
All of these were cool factors, but the reason Sacramento State ended up being my dream school was because of the relationships I made along the way.
I made lifelong friendships and shared so many great experiences with my college teammates. From hanging out in hotel rooms on the Friday nights before game days, to the Spring break trips to Cal Poly, we had so many fun times.
In fact, many of our favorite memories have nothing to do with actually playing football.
These are the kind of relationships that don’t just fade away. There is something special about college teammate camaraderie.
For example, I just got married two weeks ago. Two of my college teammates were in my wedding as groomsmen, and there were probably twenty former teammates also in attendance at the wedding. Even though many of us hadn’t seen each other in a while, we picked up right where we left off.
What Does The Right “Fit” Mean For You?
From the very beginning of the recruiting process, you need to really understand who you are and what you are looking for in a potential college.
The first thing you should do is visit different colleges. Visit big, small, urban, rural, competitive, and relaxed schools. You don’t have to travel all over, just try and get a feel for what you like and what feels comfortable.
Next, create a list of every factor that is important when picking a college (weather/climate, proximity to home, comfort with coaching staff, educational options, conference, etc.). After making the list, write down what you would consider a perfect situation for each factor. For example, you’re perfect school might have a solid engineering program, the weather is temperate most of the year, the coaching staff is demanding but has a good reputation, and the conference has teams somewhat close to your home so your parents can come watch you at least a couple times a year.
After creating a picture of your ideal school, do some research and try to find it! Doing this saves you lots of time and energy instead of looking for any possible suitor (at least in the beginning. Start by looking at local colleges, then expand your scope).
The key to finding the right fit for you is being completely honest with yourself and knowing who you are. If you are a homebody like me, you probably will not be as happy at a school on the other side of the country. If you are from Florida and love the sunshine, you probably won’t be as happy in Idaho. If you are looking for the whole small college town atmosphere, NYU is probably not the most desirable place for you. If you are from a big city and like that lifestyle, you probably do not want to go to a rural school where the people are more slow-paced and relaxed.
It all comes down to who you are and what you really want out of the college experience, so be honest with yourself and pursue schools that look like potentially good fits for you as a person.
With that being said, the right fit for you may not come in the package you expect. I never knew that Sacramento State was going to be the right fit for me until I visited the school. I had a lot of preconceived notions about it being a commuter school in the middle of a big city, and that’s not at all what I wanted. It turns out that the campus is actually very quiet on the outskirts of downtown and it is a very small community once you get involved.
So understand that you will not get a real feel for a school until you actually step foot on campus and meet the people, take in the scenery, etc.
When it is all said and done, most recruits only get a few choices. I ended up with one Division I scholarship offer so my choice was easy. As much as we would all like to have our pick of schools, it may turn out that your only choice is nothing like the dream school you have in mind. If you really want to play in college and your only choice may not seem that desirable at first, I would say that you should still take it! You never know where life is going to take you, and even though you may not think that a school is perfect for you at first, it may be a blessing in disguise.
It is all about how you approach the situation. If you look at it like an adventure and just give the school a shot, you may end up at your true “dream school”.
Looking back, if I was a 5-star recruit with my pick of any school in the country, I can say with complete certainty that I would still choose Sac State. You are probably laughing and saying, “Yeah right, why would you go there when you could have gone to Notre Dame/Texas/Alabama!”.
But that is the whole point!!! It is not about going to the biggest name school, it is about finding the school where you will be happiest and most successful. For me, Sacramento State was that school.
Let’s help you find your dream school!
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