Academics

How Do You Know What The Right College Is Academically?

Right College Academically

What’s the right school for you?

This really is one of the most important questions in the recruiting process, and one that every student-athlete and their family has to answer for themselves: what is most important for you in a school, and what might you be willing to sacrifice if it means getting what you want?

In general, we advise student-athletes to look for the right college in three different ways:

  • academic fit
  • social fit
  • athletic fit

And when we mean the right college for you academically, we don’t just mean whether they have tutoring programs for athletes, or offer your major or have an amazing library. (Although all of those things are important!)

There’s a lot more that goes into finding the right academic fit. Luckily, our friends at Admitster, the college admissions experts, recently described the benefits of one of their tools that helps student-athletes and their families do just that.

How Admitster’s “What If” Engine Helps College Applicants Find the Right College

You’re a junior or senior at a public high school and, like many of your peers, there’s a good chance that you have little or no access to a college counselor. The National Association for College Admission Counseling, using data from the Spring of 2012 (from the nationally representative High School Longitudinal Study of 2009), reported that:

  • “Less than two-fifths of counselors indicated that their school had a counselor whose primary responsibility was college applications or had a counselor whose primary responsibility was college selection”, and
  • “About half of counselors (54%) reported that their counseling department spent less than 20 percent of their time on college readiness, selection, and applications.”

Student-to-counselor ratios vary greatly by state, but the national average is an unfortunate 471 to 1 – see here for more details. Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights reported that, across the country, one in five high schools completely lack a school counselor. This New York Times article sums it up well: “… public high schools across the country struggle with staggering ratios of students to guidance counselors.” Grim.

What are you, the student, to do? Time and time again, college counseling has been shown to have a significant impact on college access, so it’s time to be proactive. One step in that direction is to take advantage of Admitster’s free registration, which will give you use of both the Acceptance Predictor and ‘What If?’ Engine, powerful college admissions tools.

Use Admitster’s free tool to gauge whether a school is right for you.

You may be surprised to learn that making some changes to your college admissions strategy, such as improving your test scores or having a summer internship, can dramatically increase your chances of being admitted to some colleges, but will have little or no impact on your chances of admission at other schools. The ‘What If?’ Engine allows you to experiment with different scenarios, seeing how actions you take (or don’t take) can impact your chances of admission at the schools of your choice. For instance, I’ve clicked on “Find a College” and have entered three different schools. Then, after entering some basic information about myself, I clicked on “My Projections” and discovered that I currently have a 6% chance of getting into Harvard, a 43% chance of admission to Amherst College, and a greater than 95% chance of getting into UMass Boston.

Now, if I really want to get into Amherst College, how can I improve my chances? This is where the ‘What If?’ Engine is extremely useful. You can play around with the sliders, for example, entering higher SAT scores or more time engaged in school clubs, and see how those actions change your projections. For instance, if I can improve my performance on the SAT Critical Reading section, scoring a 660, bring my GPA up to 3.65, and spend 10 hours a week volunteering, it brings my chances of being admitted to Amherst College up to 51%. Still, even with SAT scores in the high 700s, my chances of getting into Amherst College are only 58%, with all other factors staying constant. If I can increase my “non-academic awards” score to 10, however, it brings my chances of admission to Amherst College up to 64%, telling me that this is one area where I should focus my attention if I want to bring an undergraduate education at Amherst College within greater reach. In short, the ‘What If?’ Engine tells you precisely the type of information that you would expect to receive from a college counselor at your high school, advising you on where to focus your efforts in order to have the best chances of reaching your college acceptance goals. Give it a try!


Still have questions about finding the right academic, social and athletic fit in a school? That’s where we can help.

About the author
Andy McKernan

Andy McKernan is the content strategist at NCSA Athletic Recruiting. A content marketer with a background in creative writing, Andy brings several years of experience to NCSA.