Power Rankings

How to Use the NCSA Power Rankings When Searching for Colleges

“Where do I start?” Many student-athletes and families ask themselves the same question when beginning the college athletic recruiting process.


One of the first steps you should take when starting your recruiting process is creating a targeted list of schools. The NCSA Power Rankings will help you focus your search on the best schools for student-athletes.


NCSA Power Rankings are a starting point


When searching for colleges, there are several factors to consider including location, academics, athletics, playing time, and size.


Ask yourself important questions: Where do I want to go to college? What do I want to study? Do I want to stay close to home? Do I prefer a big school or a small school?


At NCSA, we’ve found many families just aren’t aware of how many schools there actually are that might fit their criteria, and by using the NCSA Power Rankings as a starting point, you will likely discover many more schools to add to your list.


Finding the best schools for student-athletes


NCSA Power Rankings provide a unique look at the country’s top colleges and universities for student-athletes from an athletic and academic perspective, offering parents and student-athletes a valuable tool when searching for the right school.


NCSA Power Rankings are calculated using a proprietary methodology incorporating several metrics, including NCSA Favorites data. NCSA Favorites represent schools chosen by the over 2 million student-athletes currently on the NCSA network.


When a student-athlete creates their list of target schools, they favorite colleges and universities within the NCSA network. Each favorite a school receives makes up the raw favorites data which is used to define each year’s NCSA Power Rankings.


Learn more about the NCSA Power Rankings methodology.


What about the schools not on the NCAS Power Rankings?


Just because a school or specific college team isn’t listed as one of the top programs doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider that school. Schools not listed as a best school can still be a great fit. Here are a few things to consider when looking at a school not currently ranked on NCSA Power Rankings:

  • Is the school strong in your intended major?
    Maybe a school doesn’t rank well academically overall, but they could have a top program for your major.
  • Does the team you would play for have a good track record for graduating student-athletes? A school may not be on the list because its overall graduation rate is low, however certain teams and even the athletic programs often have higher average graduation rates than the school as a whole.
  • Are you considering enough schools? – Many of the schools near the top of the NCSA Power Rankings are the biggest, most-recognized schools in the country. There is nothing wrong with having those schools on your list as “dream schools” but for most student-athletes, the best fit will be at the Division 2, 3 and even NAIA levels. Those schools are much less well known, but still great schools.
  • Are you focusing too much on overall rankings? – The overall rankings are fun to look at, but most student-athletes should be focused on the sports specific and division specific lists. This is where you can see the programs that are most popular with your peers.
About the author
Jasmin Thames